Preserve biodiversity: June 5 is World Environment Day 2020

Fall back in love with nature on World Environment Day: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity 

Fall back in love with nature on World Environment Day: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity

It's hard to remember when I first fell in love with nature. I have many memories of life outdoors as a child, but it's difficult to remember which memories were the first. These memories are sprinkled throughout my childhood, far in the past, foggy but still clear. One thing I know for certain is that they all involve frogs.

One of my first memories of connecting with nature is fishing at my grandparent's cottage. I always enjoyed catching frogs far more than fishing. I'd spend my time with eyes on the shoreline, searching for frogs in the water. I'd collect them in a big, white bucket of water and watch them swim and leap up the sides. Eventually, I'd release them back into the wild, in hopes that we'd meet again.

I also remember visiting a friend's house when I was growing up. She had a pool, but I was always more interested in the coy pond in the backyard. The orange and white fish would swim in circles, but their bright colours couldn't distract me from the many frogs lounging in the water close to the edges. My heart ached for them. I wanted them to have the shoreline that the frogs at my cottage had. It didn't seem right that they were confined to this little pond. I convinced my friend to help me liberate them. We collected as many as we could, putting them in small plastic buckets of water that we hung off of our bike handles. We peddled to a nearby bridge, carefully crawled under, and released them in the water- much to her parent's disappointment. 

Fall back in love with nature on World Environment Day: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity

My most significant memory of connecting with nature is when my family moved to a house with a park just behind it. Through the park ran a stream that opened up into the river. I used to go on ecological explorations, collecting samples so I could study the ecosystem. I'd often drag my little sister along, and we would both come home covered in mud. Exploring our own little slice of nature was well worth the trouble we got in for getting our clothes all muddy.

That was my first experience with biodiversity, and the first time I can remember understanding the importance and fragility of the ecosystem. I remember being upset when I would find litter in my stream, and how devastated I was when the construction crew tasked with building up the area clear cut trees and burned the logs. As a child, those trees were carcasses, a wasted life cut short, and an opportunity to reuse the wood for something else lost in the ashes.


The environment became a fixture in my life. June 5 is World Environment Day, and the focus this year is to encourage everyone to protect the biodiversity that meant so much to me as a child- and still means so much to me today. But I encourage everyone to look at the environment through the eyes of your childhood self. It may be an idealistic lens to view nature through, but it's also a hopeful one. 

Fall back in love with nature on World Environment Day: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity

Ontario made a strong commitment to preserving biodiversity in 2005, through the development of Ontario’s first Biodiversity Strategy. The Ontario Government established the Ontario Biodiversity Council and set conservation goals and legislation aimed at protecting nature and nurturing our connection to the environment.

They cover a lot of ground because the thing about protecting biodiversity is that it' reach is diverse. "Provincial policies and legislation guide the protection, stewardship, and use of natural resources, safeguard our air, water, and soil and provide guidance for the production and use of energy and the mitigation of climate change. They also offer direction for land use planning and transportation systems, all of which are of critical importance to the conservation of biodiversity."

Healthy ecosystems positively support clean air and purifying drinking water, pollination and food stability, nature-based medicines, raw material, and stability of the climate. Biodiversity is "the variability of living things that makes up life on Earth. It encompasses the 8 million or so species on the planet– from plants and animals to fungi and bacteria – the ecosystems that house them – such as oceans, forests, mountain environments and coral reefs." Everything is connected. Without a healthy balance, we can't survive. Connecting with nature is more than just enjoying the stream in the backyard, or liberating a bunch of frogs and placing them back into their natural habitat. It's about knowing the issues and taking action. 

Fall back in love with nature on World Environment Day: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity

The COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult for us to gather and take action for World Environment Day, but there is just as much power is education and sharing knowledge. Do you want to learn more about biodiversity, and what you can do to protect the environment? In the spirit of biodiversity, I'll give you a diverse selection of topics to teach you all about protecting the environment- and what you can do to help!

The girl who used to play with the frogs is a distant memory, but in many ways, she's not so different from the woman I've become today. The biggest change is the current state of the environment, and the sense of urgency when it comes to preserving biodiversity. 2020 is the year to take action! If you can't do it for me, then do it for the frogs. Happy World Environment Day! 

June 5 is World Environment Day 2020: Learn how you can help preserve biodiversity

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