If nature cannot survive, neither will we – how we’re working with local communities on nature-based solutions
With a new report released today assessing the world's wildlife populations have declined by more than two-thirds since 1970 as forests have been cleared and oceans polluted, the need for urgent action to protect wildlife and nature has never been more important.
The report identifies six threats to biodiversity – agriculture, hunting, logging, pollution, invasive species and climate change. The report also makes the links between biodiversity loss and climate crisis for the first time.
The Living Planet Index Report 2022 puts it bluntly: “The evidence is clearer than ever – we are living through the dual crises of catastrophic nature loss and climate change, driven by the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources.”
It is that stark – if nature cannot survive, neither will we.
While we join the call for global political action to better protect nature through legislation, regulation and other measures to drive urgent change across the world, we are also working from the bottom up to catalyse change across South Asia.
Solutions are possible and we are using every opportunity to address the crisis through our work in South Asia by working with local communities to find local solutions – to boost natural ecosystems, biodiversity and human wellbeing but also addressing major societal issues, including poverty and climate change.
Coexistence has long been our mantra – recognising that as populations grow and the living space of wildlife and people comes into conflict, we must find ways of living in harmony and stemming biodiversity loss.
And we have many successful examples which can be shared with the whole conservation community, benefiting wildlife, habitats and people far beyond the boundaries of the project itself.
In Karnataka with Dr Sanjay Gubbi of the Nature Conservation Foundation we’ve helped provide 2,000 families with safe, clean-burning LPG stoves. Prior to the project, families would gather firewood from the forest fringes, damaging biodiversity and potentially bringing them into life-threatening encounters with wildlife. By removing their need to gather firewood, up to 5,000 tonnes less firewood is burned annually, reducing air pollution and protecting the biodiversity of the region.
In Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the invasive Lantana weed is destroying and taking over natural habitats and food sources of mammals like elephants. A previous project with partner Tarsh Thekaekara experimented with ways of making lantana fund its own labour-intensive removal by processing lantana that can then be sold to the biomass industry, or processing cut stems to make furniture and other items that can be sold at a profit by local craftspeople.
Our CoExistence campaign, which saw elephants woven from Lantana cross London’s Mall last year, helped increase awareness about human-wildlife conflict, raising funds for further conservation work, and for the Adivasi artists who created the sculptures.
We are currently calling for proposals from organisations across India to apply for grants from our CoExistence Fund, which aims to facilitate human-wildlife coexistence – the need of the hour.
At the other end of the spectrum, our work in Bangladesh is exploring how we can support climate innovation projects to mitigate the impacts of climate change of local communities. Bangladesh is a country which experienced floods, displacement and poverty all driven by climate change. In response, we are looking to bring together global leadership and local knowledge to build greater resilience to the impacts of climate change on agriculture by driving innovation and scalability, working with local communities on local solutions.
We can’t protect wildlife and their habitat without saving the world they live in from the deadly impacts of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. These are just a few of the ways we are working to urgently stem catastrophic impacts.
But there is always more we could all do. You can support our conservation work by making a donation today.