Baby wagtails with Anton2010 has been declared both the International Year of Biodiversity and the International Year of Youth by the United Nations. While our children are the future of our civilization, Earth’s biodiversity is the key to our survival. Biodiversity is not about exotic material for entertaining wildlife documentaries. It is fundamental to our survival. A diverse range of species across a wide spectrum of ecosystems keeps a wide range of survival options open. In addition, biodiversity is essential for sustaining the natural living systems that provide us with our food, fuel, health, shelter and many vital services.

We humans are part of this biodiversity and we have the power to protect or destroy it – thereby protecting or destroying the basis of our survival. Sadly, we are destroying biodiversity at such a rate that natural scientists are referring to present times as the age of the Sixth Extinction.

It is profound that the UN Year of Youth and of  Biodiversity are linked in 2010 as it is our children who will inherit the world we leave behind. In 1992 the teenage Severn Suzuki addressed the Earth Summit in Brazil on behalf of the Environmental Children’s Organisation. Only 12 years old at the time, she stood in front of the leaders of the world and told them outright: “We are a group of twelve and thirteen-year-olds from Canada trying to make a difference. We raised all the money ourselves to come six thousand miles to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come. …. I’m only a child yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil — borders and governments will never change that.

Severn Suzuki’s speech is as relevant now as it was in 1992 (click here to hear the full version). It is time to act on her message for the youth of today and to protect our biodiversity and their future.

What can we do: The fynbos kingdom is one of the botanically most diverse on the Earth. By green caterpillar growing locally indigenous plants, you are supporting the local ecology. Go to ..For a list of locally appropriate plants many of which are available at our local nurseries. Support local conservation groups such as the Wild Life & Environment Society of South Africa, the Botanical Society and community conservation groups such as FOSNA, NEAG, KEAG.  See a comprehensive list in our environmental database.

To find out what plants and animals occur in the South Peninsula, or to add your sighting of an indigenous bug, bird, frog or flower etc check out: http://www.biodiversity.co.za/citycapetownregion?bid=1

It is the range of biodiversity that we must care for – the whole thing – not just one or two stars. David Attenborough.