Curated by Linda
New to the topic? Linda took a deep dive into biodiversity and came across a lot of interesting reads, places, eats, and activities, with her favorites listed below.
What to watch
In this Netflix documentary, Sir David Attenborough and scientist Johan Rockström provide a science based overview of nine planetary boundaries which need our immediate attention, before they turn out to be irreversible tipping points. Biodiversity turns out to be one of these boundaries that needs most urgent action. The good news is that they conclude that it is not yet too late to act.
Watching this documentary I found out there is such a wonderful world under the earth’s surface, which we generally do not realise. Learn all about the amazing beauty and power of the sophisticated underground network of fungi and mushrooms, and how critical they are to our lives, also for our basic needs like food and medicines.
What to read
One of the most cited and extensive recent reports on the economics of biodiversity. This landmark report stresses that nature is a “blind spot” in economics and that nature’s value must be at the heart of economics. It makes clear that urgent and transformative action taken now, would be significantly less costly than delaying it.
The Little Book of Investing in Nature
The Little Book of Investing in Nature: gives a valuable overview of global biodiversity funding needs, the current low investment levels in biodiversity and gives concrete, inspirational examples as to how biodiversity finance could be scaled up, including for payments for ecosystem services.
What to visit
Naturalis Biodiversity Centre
Naturalis is a museum and at the same time, the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity. It has been awarded as the European Museum of the year 2021 and has one of the world’s top five natural history collections with over 40 million objects collected over 200 years. Worth a visit, if you would have the opportunity!
Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
Botanical gardens date from the 16th century when they started as part of university medical faculties in Renaissance Italy. Plants are the oldest source of medicines, and still today around 25% of all drugs are derived from rainforest plants. Worldwide there are about 1800 botanical gardens with a wealth of knowledge. I was particularly impresssed by the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London. Founded in 1759, and a UNESCO world heritage site since 2003, it has one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world.
What to follow
Platform on biodiversity by Dr. Thomas Crowther
As a global ecological research group, Crowther Lab at ETH Zürich knows the benefits of access to data, but also the pitfalls of data when not paired with local knowledge. They set out to create a unified platform to democratize ecological data to ensure that the best restoration data is created by, for, and with restoration practitioners.
The Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) is being held in Kunming, China in two phases. While phase one takes place virtually from 11 to 15 October 2021, phase two will be an in-person meeting in Kunming, from 25 April to 8 May 2022.
What to listen to
The Dutch podcast called Groene Oren (“green ears”) from Staatsbosbeheer features plants, trees and animals telling their personal stories on how they view and experience the world around them. It was a pleasure to listen to Wart the Dormouse, Lies the Blue Butterfly and Daniel the Nightjar, who flies every year from the Congolese forrests in Africa to the Netherlands.
Also in the oceans, there is also an amazing world under water that we are generally not aware of. The story teller in this podcast is a very passionate diver. In a vivid way he very enthousiastically talks about the splendors of the ocean's creatures and the issues currently affecting them.
What to bike and hike
As a genuine bike lover I was happy to see that, if organized in the right way, cyclotourism can help preserve and protect biodiersity. The eurovelo website is one of my favourite ones in planning long distance rides. It mentions that cycle tourism contributes 44 billion euros to the European economy every year. And that, if done with care, bringing the bike to natural spaces can become an additional argument to protect these areas, which then take extra touristic and economic value, while empowering rural areas, also constituting an incentive to take care of protected areas.
Coming from a super flat country like the Netherlands, I have always been impressed by high mountains. Hiking in the mountains is for me one of the best ways to recharge with a lot of energy, certainly also fueled by the beauty of nature and the magnificant views. One of my favorite mountains in Europe is the Sierra Nevada in Spain, a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1986.
What to taste/eat
Vegetarian meat and vegan fish
Given the current high environmental footprint of meat, increasing innovation is taking place in the protein food chain. With the growing population, it is important that we find new, innovative ways to revolutionize the footprint of our foodchain. In the Netherlands, The Vegetarian Butcher started in 2007, and became so successful in its mission to take animal protein out of our diets, that Unilever bought the company in 2018. It is great to see a large company like Unilever accelerating its ambitions towards more plant-based food. Recently, I was happy to see that we now also have a good vegan fish alternative, which I had the opportunity to taste in FMO’s restaurant at the office.
Crickets and grasshoppers
One of the more recent innovations in the food chain relates to insects. Although we could also argue that these historically have been part of the human food chain, as we still see in some countries. I also had the opportunity to taste it in FMO’s restaurant some time ago and it tasted very good!
What to learn
World Earth Worm Day
Recently I learned that October 21st is World Earth Worm Day. Earthworms are involved in the breakdown of waste from animal and plant material and help keep soils fertile and rich. A lot has been published on the importance of bees for pollination: almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading global crops depend on animal pollination. However, there are also many more less visible creatures playing a crucial role in our highly sophisticated ecosystems, like the earthworms.
BBC Earth Newsletter
Generally, I know it’s hard to follow too many newsletters, but I can surely recommend to add the BBC Earth one to your short list. It offers a wealth of jaw dropping clips and pictures as well as nice to know facts and data. The most recent newsletter I received is titled “The hidden wonders of our world” and is about smart octopuses, earth’s hidden volcanos, fascinating fungi, the world’s tiniest tree and the secret life of whales. Enjoy!