Their success is based on us adopting a plant-based diet, too.
Natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and oceans, do a pretty good job of storing carbon and supporting biodiversity.
It's therefore no surprise that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) – actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, for the benefit of people and nature – are being widely discussed by NGOs, multi-stakeholder platforms and coalitions of countries as "win-win" solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. But implementing NbS alone is not enough. Their success or failure ultimately depends on the extent to which the world transitions to healthier, more sustainable planet-based diets.
The connection between NbS and dietary patterns comes down to land. Land-use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance and may be the single most pressing environmental issue of our day. Nature-positive farming methods are often promoted as a way to feed humanity while reducing the environmental impact of food production. This includes sequestering more carbon in the soils and above-ground biomass such as trees, supporting biodiversity through wildlife corridors or riparian buffers, and reducing inputs such as nitrogen or pesticides. Yet even these types of NbS will drive an increase in demand for land if trends in food consumption patterns continue.
Food for thought
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook estimates that rising national GDPs will drive an increase in global meat consumption of 12% by 2030, with continued growth until 2050. Such increased demand would nearly double food-related greenhouse gas emissions and preclude any chance of keeping the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This increase in demand for meat will also continue to drive deforestation in the tropics, with devastating consequences for biodiversity.
We also need land to plant trees – and we need to plant lots of them. Tree planting has been promoted as another important NbS because trees can absorb and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which is critical in our fight against climate change. In several studies, reforestation is offered as the most promising solution for storing carbon, including the potential to store up to 200 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon – two-thirds of all the carbon released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution – but only if a trillion trees are planted. This sounds great; however, feeding 10 billion people by 2050 requires that we figure out where we can expand the land needed to sequester carbon and reverse biodiversity loss, while guaranteeing food security.
Despite the global call for reforestation, we continue to deforest our planet. Between 2004 and 2017, an area of forest roughly the size of Morocco was lost, primarily in the tropics and sub-tropics. The biggest cause is agricultural expansion, in particular for cattle ranching in areas like the Amazon, Gran Chaco, Cerrado and Eastern Australia. There will only be enough land for reforestation at scale if we halt agricultural expansion and reduce the amount of land currently used to produce food. Again, this is largely dependent on changing what we eat.
A global shift to diets that contain a larger proportion of plant-based foods relative to animal-source foods could release enough agricultural land to sequester 5 Gt to 10 Gt of CO2-equivalent per year if this land was restored to native vegetation. This finding is consistent with several studies, including one that determined that a shift to plant-based diets has the potential to sequester 332 Gt to 574 Gt CO2, an amount equivalent to 99-163% of the CO2 emissions budget consistent with a 55% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Global carbon sequestration potential for current diets, those recommended by National Dietary Guidelines and others.
No magic fix
There are already many efforts underway to implement NbS. For instance, the Global Future Council on Nature-Based Solutions is building support to "unlock more finance and catalyse meaningful action to enable a nature-positive economy". The WWF Global Grasslands and Savannahs Initiative is elevating the importance of these often overlooked biomes to ensure that the pursuit of NbS and other activities doesn't drive more loss of grassland ecosystems, while the 1t.org initiative aims to plant a trillion trees. These are but a few examples of important global efforts to implement NbS. However, these efforts must also be accompanied with a renewed emphasis on dietary change to ensure a significant reduction in overall demand for land for food production.
There is no magic 'fix' to widespread adoption of healthy and sustainable diets. It requires hard work, political will and resources. There are some lessons, however, that can be drawn from past global transformations.
The first lesson is that no single actor or breakthrough is likely to catalyse systems change. Systems change will require actors at all scales and sectors engaged and working toward a shared set of goals. Secondly, science and evidence-gathering are keys to change, but lack of evidence must not be an excuse to delay action. The third lesson is that the full range of policy levers will be needed. It won't be enough to rely mainly on soft policy approaches, such as education campaigns or behavioural change initiatives. This must also be accompanied by regulatory or fiscal measures to ensure widespread adoption of healthy and sustainable diets.
It has been recently noted that achieving success in the climate crisis is like playing chess and requires 'seeing the whole board'. The same analogy works for the food system. Too often, and by far too many, diets are considered as pawns in the global game of food system transformation – the least significant pieces on the board. But in fact, pawns are the soul of the game and how they are arranged depends whether the game is won or lost.
The same holds true for diets. Without changing what we eat, we can't deliver a thriving future for people and planet. We ignore this strategy at our peril. It's time to realize the power of planet-based diets.
The island rule hypothesizes that species shrink or supersize to fill insular niches not available to them on the mainland.
- Brookesia nana, the nano-chameleon, may be the smallest vertebrate ever discovered.
- The "island rule" states that when new species migrate to islands, they may shrink or grow as they evolve to fill new ecological niches.
- It remains unclear whether the island rule can explain the nano-chameleon or nature's other extreme miniaturizations.
The newly discovered nano-chameleon (Brookesia nana) is the latest contender for the title of the world's smallest reptile and amniote vertebrate. Found in a mountainous region in northern Madagascar, the males of this diminutive species sport a body size of 13.5 mm, meaning one could comfortably stand on the end of your finger.
Its wee challenger is the Jaragua dwarf gecko (Sphaerodactylus ariasae). These pocket-change-sized geckos—the genus is often pictured snogging the minted portraits of past presidents—come in at 16 mm from nose to tail. They were discovered in 2001 on Isla Beata, a small, forested Caribbean island just south of the Dominican Republic.
The title of the world's smallest, however, is difficult to award thanks to sexual size dimorphism. As Dr. Mark Scherz, herpetologist and evolutionary biologist, pointed out on his blog, nano-chameleon females are significantly larger than their male counterparts or Jaragua dwarf gecko females. "As a result, whether or not the new species is considered the smallest amniote in the world depends on whether we define that based on the male or female body size, or the midpoint of the two. It turns out this is quite a common problem in other species with size dimorphism as well, such as frogs," Scherz writes.
Beyond their shrimpy stature, these and other miniaturized species have another thing in common: They live on islands. That fact may explain why evolution has pushed them to shrink in a world full of giant competition.
Bigger isn't always better
The New Zealand little spotted kiwi evolved to be small to fill an ecological niche. Before the arrival of humans, its island ecosystem contained no land mammals to prey on these flightless birds.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Because of their geographic isolation, islands can have powerful effects on the evolution of their residential species. The massive Komodo dragon prowls its namesake island. The Barbados threadsnake is thin enough to slither through a straw. And the fossil record recounts a history of unusually sized and bedecked creatures who established homes far from the mainland, such as the Hoplitomeryx of the Mikrotia fauna.
One hypothesis for evolution's insular experimentation is "the island rule." The rule states that after establishing themselves on an island, smaller species will tend to evolve into oversized versions of their mainland ancestors. Meanwhile, larger species will tend to evolve into smaller variations. These processes are known as insular gigantism and insular dwarfism, respectively. They do this to fill the ecological niches available to them, which often differ from those they filled on the mainland.
The rule was first formulated by evolutionary biologist Leigh Van Valen and based on a 1964 study by mammologist J. Bristol Foster—which is why it is also known as Foster's rule. Since then, many observational studies have corroborated the island rule, and there is even evidence to suggest that new species introduced to islands will, for a time, evolve more rapidly to fill available niches.
A flock of migrant birds, for example, may find an island's lack of mammalian and reptilian predators opens the ground-living niche once forbidden to them. Such birds would then be free to grow larger, forage below the canopies, and lose the ability of flight.
This appears to be the origin story for New Zealand's flightless birds including the giant moa, which, at six-feet tall, is the tallest bird on record. This megafauna enjoyed all the benefits of being large and in charge: fewer predators, wider ranges, access to more and varied foods, and the ability to better survive trying times. The species enjoyed island life until roughly 600 years ago, when humans arrived on the scene and hunted them to extinction.
Conversely, large species may find island living restrictive as there's less room or food when compared to their mainland nurseries. Because of this, evolution may select for smaller body sizes as such bodies require less energy, and therefore fewer resources, to survive and reproduce.
This is the theory behind the miniaturization of the Channel Islands pygmy mammoths. As the story goes, in the search for food, a herd of Columbian mammoths embarked on a journey to the super island Santaroasae. Over time, the island was cut off from the mainland. Food became scarce, and smaller mammoths had an easier time surviving and reproducing, thus passing on their Shrinky-Dink genes. Thanks to a lack of oversized predators, such evolution proved fruitful, and in less than 20,000 years, the giant Columbian mammoths evolved into a new species—the (relatively) pint-sized, 6.5-foot-tall pygmy mammoths.
To be clear, the island rule doesn't state that any species that washes ashore must go either Lilliputian or Brobdingnag. It only states that if an ecological niche becomes available and improves survival and reproductive success, then such a change is likely.
Thanks to that island living?
Such constrained growth may be the cause of the Jaragua dwarf gecko's bantam evolution. The gecko eats tiny insects and may be filling a niche that's unavailable on the North American continent with its many, many insectivores. In fact, the island rule may explain why islands are so rich with endemic species—particularly the Caribbean, which is considered a biodiversity hotspot.
Of course, scientific rules are only provisional, and scientists are prepared to revise or completely disregard a hypothesis should new evidence appear. In a field as new as biogeography, the question of whether the island rule is truly a "rule" remains an open and hotly debated question.
One systematic review found empirical support for the island rule to be low, while another analysis argued the rule is simply a recognition of "a few clade-specific patterns." The latter's authors conclude that "[i]nstead of a rule, size evolution on islands is likely to be governed by the biotic and abiotic characteristics of different islands, the biology of the species in question and contingency."
That brings us back to the newly discovered nano-chameleon. While it seems to follow the island rule—Madagascar being an island known for its rich biodiversity—there is a wrinkle. The species' closest relative lives right next door. Brookesia karchei is near twice the size of the nano-chameleon but ranges in the same mountains on mainland Madagascar.
If the nano-chameleon evolved to fill an ecological niche, why didn't those same environmental pressures miniaturize the karchei chameleon? If not the island rule, what did lead to the nano-chameleon's smaller size? As is often the case in science, further evidence may one day answer these questions.
Participation in community science programs has skyrocketed during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 in 2020 disrupted field research and environmental monitoring efforts worldwide. Travel restrictions and social distancing forced scientists to cancel studies or pause their work for months.
Our work relies on this kind of information to track seasonal events in nature and understand how climate change is affecting them. We also recruit and train citizens for community science – projects that involve amateur or volunteer scientists in scientific research, also known as citizen science. This often involves collecting observations of phenomena such as plants and animals, daily rainfall totals, water quality or asteroids.
Participation in many community science programs has skyrocketed during COVID-19 lockdowns, with some programs reporting record numbers of contributors. We believe these efforts can help to offset data losses from the shutdown of formal monitoring activities.
Nature's Notebook is a community-based science project that invites participants to track seasonal changes in plants and animals.
Why is uninterrupted monitoring important?
Regular, long-term tracking of phenomena such as plant and animal abundance, composition and activity is critical for understanding change. It enables researchers to see the impacts of natural disturbance events, such as wildfires, and human activities, such as construction and development. Long-term studies offer insights into patterns and processes that can't be derived from shorter studies, and help experts make better predictions about the future.
Interruptions in monitoring make it harder to accurately assess changes. If those disruptions coincide with extreme events, such as a major hurricane, experts miss opportunities to understand the full impacts of those events.
The U.S. has several long-term ecological monitoring programs, including the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Long Term Ecological Research Network and federal inventory and monitoring programs. Many state and local government agencies carry out similar activities. The pandemic has significantly disrupted all of these programs.
Reasons to engage the public in science
Community science is a strong complement to formal research. By engaging willing volunteers, community programs yield much more data and cover larger areas than professional scientists can achieve on their own.
We help manage two popular biodiversity-themed community science programs in the U.S.: eButterfly, a program for tracking butterfly sightings, and Nature's Notebook, a program for tracking seasonal activity in plants and animals. Scientists have used data contributed by participants in these programs to verify information collected by satellites, determine the conditions associated with flowering in different species of plants, and predict how climate change will shift plant species' ranges in the future.
Observations contributed to other community science programs have helped to document new insect species, discover exoplanets and even find cures for rare diseases. Globally, millions of people participate in thousands of projects, resulting in data valued at more than US$1 billion annually.
Community science programs also benefit participants. Joining a community science program can make people more science-literate and help pull back the curtain on how scientific work is done. It also deepens their sense of place and increases their understanding and appreciation for the plants and animals they monitor. We have frequently heard from our participants that making observations has enabled them to see and experience much more in places they know well, and to enjoy those places all the more.
Community science to the rescue
As offices and schools closed in the spring of 2020, many Americans turned to community science programs in search of stimulating and meaningful activities for children and adults alike. And despite COVID-19 restrictions, volunteer data collectors have persisted through the pandemic.
In a recent analysis of activity in biodiversity-themed community science programs during COVID-19 lockdowns, we found that participation generally held steady or increased in the spring of 2020. Two popular programs, iNaturalist and eBird, both grew. Participation in Nature's Notebook and eButterfly declined slightly, though volunteers still logged many critical observations. What's more, community science volunteers in these programs and others have kept at it even as lockdowns have relaxed.
Plant ecologist Chad Washburn explains how the Naples Botanical Garden in Florida uses citizen science research to study plant distribution, flowering times and range.
How good is community data?
One common question about community science projects is whether data collected by volunteers is reliable. This is a valid concern, since many program participants are not formally trained as scientists.
Organizations that run community science programs typically go to great lengths to ensure data quality. To avoid recording erroneous observations, project leaders provide extensive training and support materials. They also construct data entry apps so that volunteers can't mistakenly input dates in the future, and flag inconsistent reports for review. Several biodiversity-themed programs, including iNaturalist, eBird and eButterfly, engage expert reviewers to evaluate and verify reports.
According to a 2018 review by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, on average, volunteer contributors yield reliable data points about 75% of the time. For some programs, such as Nature's Notebook and eBird, accuracy is over 90%.
SciStarter is a database that volunteers can use to find community science opportunities across the U.S. throughout the year.
How to get involved
Your observations can help fill critical gaps that COVID-19 closures have created. Contributions to iNaturalist, eBird, eButterfly or Nature's Notebook are welcome any time of the year, but spring is an ideal time to contribute observations to biodiversity-themed programs to help document plant and animal response to changing seasonal conditions. For example, participants in Nature's Notebook will help document whether springtime plant and animal activity is early amid the ongoing effects of climate change.
The 2021 City Nature Challenge, an effort using iNaturalist to document urban biodiversity in brief, focused events, will run in late April and early May in cities worldwide. Another event, Global Big Day – a single day focused on celebrating and recording birds worldwide – is scheduled for May 8. Even if you've never thought of yourself as a scientist, you can help scientists collect data that expand our understanding of the Earth and how it works.
Theresa Crimmins, Director, USA National Phenology Network, University of Arizona; Erin Posthumus, Outreach Coordinator and Liaison to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, University of Arizona, and Kathleen Prudic, Assistant Professor of Citizen and Data Science, University of Arizona
In a joint briefing at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, NASA and NOAA revealed 2020's scorching climate data.
You may have noticed a trend in the last few years. At the beginning of every year, NASA and NOAA share their analyses of the previous year's climate data. And every year, their data reveal the previous year to be one of the hottest on record—with 2016 at the torrid top of 139 years of documentation. That's no coincidence. Climate change is happening, it's happening now, and it's human-caused.
That's the consensus of 97 percent of climate scientists, according to a 2014 report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That's the same percentage of physicians and cardiovascular scientists who agree that smoking causes lung cancer, and it's a consensus reached through decades worth of surveys and studies into the realities and causes of climate change.
Now, climate scientists have two more analyses to add to their overwhelming evidence. In a briefing at this year's 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, representatives for NASA and NOAA revealed their independent analyses of 2020's climate data. And the trend continues.
A dead heat
A graph showing the global mean temperatures from 1880–2020 (with the years 1951–1980 serving as the mean baseline).
Credit: NASA and NOAA
For its 2020 analysis, NASA gathered surface temperature measurements from more than 26,000 weather stations. This data was incorporated with data from satellites as well as sea-surface temperatures taken from ship and buoy instruments. Once tallied, NASA's data showed 2020 barely edged out 2016 as the warmest year on record, with average global temperatures 1.02°C (1.84°F) above the baseline mean (1951-1980).
In a separate analysis of the raw data, NOAA found 2020 to be slightly cooler than 2016. This distinction is the result of the different methodologies used in each—for example, NOAA uses a different baseline period (1901–2000) and does not infer temperatures in polar regions lacking observations. Together, these analyses put 2020 in a statistical dead heat with the sweltering 2016 and demonstrate the global-warming trend of the past four decades.
"The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend," Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a release. "Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important—the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken."
And they are. According to the analyses, 2020 was the warmest year on record for Asia and Europe, the second warmest for South America, the fourth warmest for Africa and Australia, and the tenth warmest for North America.
All told, 2020 was 1.19°C (2.14°F) above averages from the late-19th century, a period that provides a rough approximate for pre-industrial conditions. This temperature is closing in on the Paris Climate Agreement's preferred goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C of those pre-industrial conditions.
2020's hotspot was—the Arctic?
A map of global mean temperatures in 2020 shows an scorching year for the Arctic.
(Photo: NASA and NOAA)
Heatwaves have become more common all over the world, but a region that really endured the heat in 2020 was the Arctic.
"The big story this year is Siberia; it was a hotspot," Russell Vose, chief of the analysis and synthesis branch of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, said during the briefing. "In May, some places were 18°F above the average. There was a town in Siberia […] that reported a high temperature of 104°F. If that gets verified by the World Metrological Organization, it will the first there's been a weather station in the Arctic with a temperature above 100°F."
The Arctic is warming at three times the global mean, thanks to a phenomenon known as Arctic Amplification. As the Arctic warms, it loses its sea ice, and this creates a feedback loop. The more Arctic sea ice loss, the more heat introduced into the oceans; the more heat introduced, the more sea ice loss. And the longer this trend continues, the more devastating the effects.
For example, since the 1980s, there's been a 50 percent decline in sea ice, and this loss has exposed more of the ocean to the sun's rays. That energy then gets trapped in the ocean as heat. As the ocean heat content rises, it threatens rising sea levels and the sustainability of natural ecosystems. In 2020 alone, 255 zeta joules of heat above the baseline were introduced into Earth's oceans. In (admittedly) dramatic terms, that's the equivalent of introducing 5 to 6 Hiroshima atom bombs worth of energy every second of every day.
Looking beyond the Arctic, the average snow cover for the Northern Hemisphere was also the lowest on record. Like the Arctic sea ices, such snow cover helps regulate Earth's surface temperatures. Its melt off in the spring and summer also provides the freshwater ecosystems rely on to survive and farmers need to grow crops, especially in the Western United States.
Natural disasters get a man-made bump
A map of 2020's billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, which totaled approximately $95 billion in losses.
Credit: NASA and NOAA
2020 was also a record-breaking year for natural disasters. In the U.S. alone, there were 22 billion-dollar disasters, the most ever recorded. Combined, they resulted in a total of $95 billion in losses. The western wildfires alone consumed more than 10 million acres and destroyed large portions of Oregon, Colorado, and California.
The year also witnessed a record-setting Atlantic Hurricane season with more than 30 named storms, 13 of which were hurricanes. Typically, the World Meteorological Organization names storms from an annual list of 21 selected names—one for each letter of the alphabet, minus Q, U, X, Y, and Z. For only the second time in history, the Organization had to resort to naming storms after Greek letters because they ran out of alphabet.
For the record, there's a consensus about the record
Such records are a dramatic reminder of climate change's ongoing effect on our planet. They make for an eye-catching headline, sure. But those headlines can sometimes mask the fact that these years are part of decade-long trends, trends providing a preview of what a climate-changed world will be like.
And in case there was any question as to whether these trends were the result of natural processes or man-made conditions, Schmidt and Vose did not mince words.
As Schmidt said in the briefing: "Many, many things have caused the climate to change in the past: asteroids, wobbles in the Earth's orbit, moving continents. But when we look at the 20th century, we can see very clearly what has been happening. We know the continents have not moved very much, we know the orbit has not changed very much, we know when there were volcanoes, we know what the sun is doing, and we know what we've been doing."
He continued, "When we do an attribution by driver of climate change over the 20th century, what we find is that the overwhelming cause of the warming is the increase of greenhouse gases. When you add in all of the things humans have done, all of the trends over this period are attributable to human activity."
The data are in; the consensus is in. The only thing left is to figure out how to prevent the worst of climate change before it's too late. As bad as 2020 was, it was only a preview of what could come.
Across the world, wildlife is under severe threat.
Earth's fate and the devastation of the natural world were recently put under the microscope with the release of Sir David Attenborough's Netflix documentary A Life On Our Planet.
It marks a departure from his usual nature documentary format and instead grieves for the damage wreaked by climate change and other forms of human interference.
It's an emotional watch, as the naturalist recounts the environmental changes he has seen first-hand throughout his career, such as the devastation of the Borneo rainforest and its native orangutan population.
Here are nine reasons we too should be concerned about the future of the planet and the millions of species which call it home.
1. More than one million species are now at risk of extinction
Over a million species of animal and plant life are now threatened with dying out – more than ever before in human history, according to the International Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
2. Wildlife population sizes dropped by two thirds since 1970
3. Tropical sub-regions of Americas showing biggest declines
The WWF study added that there was a 94% decline of wildlife populations in tropical sub-regions of the Americas over the 50 years from 1970 – the largest fall observed anywhere on Earth.
4. Species dying off more frequently than ever before
Species are dying off 1,000 times more frequently today than during the 60 million years before the arrival of humans, according to a 2014 study by Brown University in the US. The report reinforces the "urgency to conserve what is left", said lead author Jurriaan de Vos
5. Freshwater species declining faster than anything else
Populations of freshwater wildlife species are declining disportionately faster than others, dropping by an average of 84% between 1970 and 2018, WWF's Living Planet Report 2020 showed. The figure also marks a rise of 1% on the 83% reported two years ago.
6. Swathes of tropical forest lost to agriculture
Some 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost between 1980 and 2000, according to the IPBES. This was largely down to cattle ranching in Latin America and plantations in South-East Asia, researchers added.
7. Nearly 40% of plants at risk of extinction
Four in 10 (39.4%) plants are at risk of dying out, according to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew's State of the World's Plants and Fungi report. An additional challenge is identifying them before extinction, with 1,942 new species of plants identified last year alone.
8. Industrial agriculture driving decline of insects
Dramatic rates of decline could lead to over 40% of the world's insect species disappearing within decades – with habitat loss due to industrial agriculture the main driver behind the decrease, according to a study published in Science Direct.
9. Bird species also seeing populations threat
Some 3.5% of domesticated birds have become extinct since 2016, the IPBES reported. In addition, nearly a quarter (23%) of threatened birds have already been affected by climate change, The global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services added.
Why is biodiversity important?
Both the 2019 IPBES and 2020 WWF reports stress that the loss of habitats and species pose as much of a threat to life on Earth as climate change.
For biodiversity is not only vital for a flourishing natural world. Its deterioration also threatens the livelihoods, economies, food security and health of eight million people worldwide – a fact brought into sharp focus by the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But all is not lost. While Attenborough brands the damage as human kind's "greatest mistake", his final message is more optimistic: "If we act now, we can yet put it right."
What can we do to save the planet?
Experts agree that one of the best ways of saving the planet is through transformation of the global food system, with agriculture accounting for nearly 60% of global biodiversity loss and about a quarter of CO2 emissions worldwide.
Consumers can make a difference by choosing to eat less meat and making more sustainable food choices, as farming animals uses a lot of land and water.
Meanwhile farmers can be supported to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, diversify crops and phase out ploughing to lessen the environmental impact.
Conservation is also vital to reverse the loss of biodiversity, with the IPBES highlighting the importance of involving the local community – to benefit nature and people alike.
The devastation of biodiversity and climate change are two sides of the coin, so measures to reduce carbon emissions and pollution – such as travelling less, using greener forms of energy and making more eco-friendly consumer choices – are also key.
For as Attenborough says: "If we take care of nature, nature will take care of us." As the world continues to suffer the fallout of COVID-19, perhaps never before has such as sentiment been more important.