Marine life and oceans take centre stage on World Wildlife Day

On December 20, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided that March 3 would be celebrated as UN World Wildlife Day. This day was chosen because it was the day when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed in 1973. The purpose of World Wildlife Day is to raise awareness about the importance of wild animals and plants around the world.

The day raises awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and inspires people to take action to protect endangered species and their habitats.

This year, the theme is “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation”. As per CITES, within this theme, the day has a focus on two sub-topics:

  • Marine life & oceans – with around 70% of our planet covered by water, the impact of marine conservation is significant.
  • Business & finance – globally, conservation efforts need to be funded, and this work needs to be done in collaboration with business – an area that, in the past, has been seen as exploitative and unsustainable. Successful partnerships for conservation must find ways of including business if we are to reverse the loss in biodiversity.

Forests are home to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, including iconic and endangered species such as tigers, orangutans, and gorillas. They provide critical habitats for millions of plant and animal species and are essential for the survival of many indigenous communities worldwide.

Forests also provide various ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation, and soil conservation.

However, forests worldwide are threatened by various human activities, including deforestation, logging, mining, and agricultural expansion. Deforestation is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, accounting for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that 420 million hectares of forest have been lost since the 1990s, equivalent to an area the size of the European Union.

Time to think and act

The loss of forests significantly impacts people’s livelihoods, particularly those who depend on forests for food, fuel, and shelter. It also has severe consequences for wildlife, destroying habitats and fragmenting ecosystems, making it difficult for species to survive and reproduce.

It also exacerbates climate change, as it releases carbon into the atmosphere and reduces the capacity of forests to sequester carbon.

On World Wildlife Day, individuals and organisations worldwide come together to raise awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats and to take action to support conservation efforts. This can include supporting conservation organisations, volunteering for local conservation projects, reducing your carbon footprint, and supporting sustainable forestry practices.

Governments and policymakers also have a critical role in protecting forests and their wildlife. This includes developing policies and regulations to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable land use practices, investing in forest conservation and restoration projects, and supporting indigenous communities and local organisations to protect forests and their wildlife.

In conclusion, World Wildlife Day is an essential event that raises awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats and inspires people to take action to support conservation efforts.

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