The impacts of human activity on our amazing planet have never been more evident and far-reaching. Biodiversity is the huge range of amazing life-forms that make up life on this planet and sadly we are losing it at an alarming rate. The World Wildlife Fund estimate that we could be losing anywhere up to 10,000 species per year.
Once something is extinct it is gone forever. The UN proclaimed 2010 as the national year of biodiversity to draw attention to the importance of this diversity for a healthy planet. We take much of it for granted and many of us seldom stop to think about just how vital this diversity is to human survival. The many intimate interconnections that make up this multitude of life provide us with the things we need to survive; food, shelter, materials, medicine, not to mention the oxygen we breathe! So it really is in our interest to get active and find ways to reverse this loss. Even if we were to ignore these 'services' that biodiversity provides for us, surely biodiversity has worth in itself? As far as we know we are the only planet in our solar system to host life. How amazing is that?! Should we not choose to be the protectors of life, not its destroyers?
Apple, pear, plum and cherry orchards provide a habitat for around 1,800 different species; a diverse range of bird, insect, lichen, mammal and fungi species. We have seen the rapid loss of this important habitat with around 60% of our orchards disappearing since the 1950s. The UK Biodiversity Action Plan now lists them as a priority habitat and there are an encouraging number of people and initiatives working hard to reverse this worrying trend...Fruit-full Schools now included! By establishing new traditional orchards and, where possible protecting and conserving those existing trees, we are increasing the number of endangered fruit varieties and the diversity of habitats for amazing species such as the endangered Noble Chafer Beetle and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. What better way to increase biodiversity – and get some good, healthy organic fruit at the same time!
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