World Habitat Day is an opportunity to reflect on the state of the world’s habitats and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. The day, first celebrated in 1986, is also intended to remind the world of its collective power and responsibility to shape the future of the human habitat – our towns and cities.
Born Free recognises the critical importance of home – we all need access to essential, life-giving resources, such as water, food and shelter. Born Free aims to protect wildlife and their homes via our focus on charismatic, figurehead species.
“Many large mammals, such as tigers, gorillas and elephants, have vast ranges and serve as ‘umbrella’ species. If we can effectively protect them and the landscapes they live in, many habitat types and a myriad species are preserved,” explains Professor Claudio Sillero, Born Free’s Chief Scientist. “The conservation of tigers in India, for example – tigers range widely, traversing different habitats in search of food and mates – requires us to not only support protected forests, but also work to recover degraded ‘buffer’ areas around them, and promote the coexistence between wildlife and the people living next to tigers.”
All habitat types are vitally important to people living locally and globally. Without our forests, marshlands, peatlands, swamps; marine, intertidal and coastal zones; savannas, deserts, prairies and tundra, functioning and thriving and providing globally critical ecosystem services, the world would not be able to feed itself, water would not flow from our taps, shelves would lay bare.
Even in towns and cities, we cannot underestimate the role of nature in our lives. Small pockets of natural habitats in our city parks, community greens, our extensive network of verges and our very own gardens are essential for us, for wildlife and for the planet.
No habitat can function and thrive without its inhabitant wildlife. Tigers shape the dry and moist deciduous forests and grasslands of Central India by controlling ungulate populations, gorillas maintain their Central African rainforest home by dispersing the seeds of giant carbon-sequestering tropical rainforest hardwood trees. Habitats are therefore preserved, managed and refined by the animals that live within.
Wildlife works hard to keep habitats in the perfect state of balance to provide us with clean air to breathe, reliable weather systems that deliver rain and shine to grow our crops, a dependable system of rivers serving billions of people around the world who live in a fine balance right up to the water’s edge, and a perfect climate that enables us to work and enjoy the outdoors and for livestock to thrive.
You can help
There are numerous things you can do to help preserve habitats. You can campaign for wild verges, cut your lawn less often or leave aside a wild area, so the bees and butterflies can enjoy dandelions and clover throughout the summer. You can drive less, enjoy local green spaces and woodlands and let everyone know how important they are to you. You can also help preserve important habitats overseas, by supporting Born Free in our efforts to preserve the wildlife and their habitat homes.
Donate to our Tigers in Crisis campaign. Adopt an eastern lowland gorilla via our adoption scheme. Wildlife preserves habitats, and habitats are our home.
Image (c) www.tigersintheforest.com