Biodiversity Decline: A Crisis That Needs To Be Addressed
In recent times, the environment has been facing a worrying crisis of resources depletion. This situation has caused the planet’s support system to stretch such that species extinction is widespread unless urgent action is taken. Extensive forest clearing activities, over-exploitation of biodiversity resources and the pollution of water and air together drive the living world to the brink of destruction.
The degradation of environmental quality undermines human well-being for the current and countless future generations. Whether land degradation or biodiversity loss, both face the same challenge, which is the increasingly dangerous impact on the health of our natural ecosystem and the entire environment.
All over the world, land is being deforested and destroyed with catastrophic implications for wildlife and mankind. It was found that the forest was cut down for various purposes. For example, in Malaysia, Indonesia and West Africa, forests are being felled to make way for palm oil plantations to fulfil the world needed for snacks and cosmetics. Similarly, the Brazilian rainforest is cleared to make way for soy plantations, cattle farms and to cater for the timber industry.
The plantation sector and industrial farming are to be blamed for much of the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of the ecosystems. The destruction wrought by plantations and farming threaten the foundations of our food system. In a February 2019 report from United Nations (UN), the loss of soil, plants, trees and pollination agents such as birds, bats and bees undermine the world’s ability to produce food. In addition, an obsession with economic growth as well as the increase of human populations are also driving this destruction either in developed or developing countries.
The high consumption of our biodiversity resources and the destruction of plantations and farming around the world will further degrade land and marine ecosystems. All of this comes at a huge cost and has implications for the system that prop up life on this planet, all at once repels the ability of humans to survive. The loss of various ecosystems also drives species extinction, intensifies climate change and pushes the planet towards a sixth mass species extinction.
While people are familiar with the threats to tigers, elephants, whales and some other animals, the problem goes far deeper than that. According to a recent World Wildlife Fund Study, the animal populations have declined by 60 per cent since 1970, driven by human actions.
Tiny biodiversity species like insects that are vital to the diets of other animals, as well as the pollinators of our food resources are also facing a bleak future as populations appear to be collapsing. Land use changes and increasing pesticide use in farming sectors also destroy habitats.
The decline in animal populations is also due to widespread illegal hunting activities to meet the demand for exotic animals to be sold in the black market. Malaysia also does not miss out on being associated with exotic animals, which often involves smuggling them out of the country. The high biodiversity richness has been a factor in causing Malaysia to be among the target countries for poachers and illegal wildlife traders.
Usually, poachers hunt wild animals like tigers, leopards, wild cats, bears, pangolins, various species of birds and reptiles. These animals are hunted because of several factors such as feedstock (deer, roe deer, wild boar, snakes, tortoises and various other reptiles), and parts to be accessories (elephant tusk, tiger skin).
In addition, the exotic animals are also used in traditional medicine (bear bile, pangolin scales, rhino horn), and some even keep them as pets. Illegal wildlife trafficking contributes to the extinction of wildlife, and this situation has been particularly worrying since the spread of the virus, similar to what happened in China, especially in Wuhan.
In some cases, it is a major threat to a wildlife species such as tigers in Malaysia. Exotic animal smuggling occurs because of the high demand for the animal from both within and outside the country. In fact, Malaysia has been listed as one of the ten hubs of illegal smuggling of wildlife. Based on the seized cases in our country, it supports the fact that Malaysia is a smuggling hub and this needs to be abolished.
To control such an activity, the control system at all levels must be enhanced in all aspects such as law, procedure, staff skills, latest technology use, effective surveillance system as well as the support of the locals. The authorities also need to improve technology facilities to enhance wildlife hunting, smuggling and illegal trade activities that can contribute to the extinction of endangered animals.
In ensuring the future of biodiversity and the environment, existing laws will have to be enforced and further regulations added, for example, deforestation, illegal hunting and overfishing. A better protection of biodiversity resources, tighter control of endangered species and greater public awareness of the decline in nature need to be taken seriously.
Besides that, saving nature will require a major rethink of how we live and how we think about nature. The best options are found in better governance, putting biodiversity concerns into the heart of every development planning, farming and energy policies, the application of scientific knowledge and technology, and an increased awareness and behavioural changes among all walks of life.
It is important for us to pay attention towards conservation aspect in order to ensure the future of biodiversity and environmental sustainability be maintained. This is compatible with the responsibility that Allah Almighty has entrusted us as the caliphs on earth, as His Words mean: “He has produced you from the earth and settled you in it” (Surah Hud, 11: 61).