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Supporting Biodiversity starts with awareness, Respect, and awe

By May 18, 2023Environment

Supporting biodiversity starts with awareness, respect, and awe

           Biodiversity is simply the variety of lifeforms that exist on our planet. Not just plants, animals, insects, and fungi, but also the bacteria and microorganisms that are often invisible to the naked eye. Although it is estimated there are approximately 8.7 million species on the planet, we have only formally described approximately 1.2 million.

The biodiversity of life interacts in complex ways, and as there is such little we know, we can’t fully comprehend how intertwined all life forms are. All we know is that there is a delicate balance and every living organism has an effect on the world, especially the impacts human activities have on the rest of life. Biodiversity is being threatened by unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution, habitat fragmentation, urbanisation, climate change and over-exploitation of our natural resources.

           Although there are many ways to support biodiversity, awareness is our first step in supporting biodiversity. Becoming aware of threats to nature and the impact extinction has on ecosystems helps motivate us to change our behaviour. As Eckhart Tolle says,

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change”. 

Sea otter


I want to start with a story about Sam, the sea otter. Despite being adorable and cute, Sam actually plays a huge role in the balance of marine ecosystems such as the Giant Kelp Forests. Have you ever seen a Giant Kelp Forest? Giant Kelp Forests are these majestic underwater forests with incredibly tall seaweeds that grow up to 35m from the bottom of the ocean and provide food and shelter to a variety of other species including, fish, rock lobster and abalone. Unfortunately Giant Kelp Forests are incredibly vulnerable with parts of the ocean losing 98% of their Giant kelp Forests, as is the case in Eastern Tasmania.

Now, Sam, the very cute sea otter and his friends love to eat. Their favourite food are sea urchins which they crack open and eat the meat inside of the protective shell. Sea otters are an endangered species and their numbers are decreasing due to a variety of factors such as hunting, fishing practices and entanglements in fishing gear, invasive species, climate change, and pollution. When sea otters are low or absent from Giant Kelp Forests, there is a huge butterfly effect on the entire ecosystem. Without sea otters eating the sea urchins, sea urchins grow abundant and start to eat the Giant Kelp at their base. The Giant Kelp then become untethered and float away – essentially being de-forested. With the reduction in the Giant Kelp Forests, there is a reduction of other life that relies on the kelp for either food or shelter. The Giant Kelp Forests are then transformed into sea urchin barrens with abundant numbers of sea urchins and little biodiversity.

Giant Kelp captures huge amounts of Carbon, so when we lose Giant Kelp Forests, we also lose a carbon sink. When that kelp dies, it releases its Carbon back into the ocean which then leads to acidification and warming of the seas which impacts aquatic life. When sea otters are present, it has been found that the amount of carbon held in kelp can be up to 13 times more. So you see, with the loss of just one important species, whole ecosystems are lost or transformed into less diverse ecosystems.

Volunteer with a local conservation group


But beside the cute and cuddly mammals we all know and love, there is also so much biodiversity we don’t even know about and bacteria in soil is one of them. It’s estimated that in 1 gram of soil there are between 6400-38000 species. Now, if soil is eroded, it can take up to 1000yrs to reproduce 2-3cm of soil. With 33% of the Earth’s soil already degraded and an estimate that this could be as high as 90% by 2050, caring for our soil, is of vital importance. We are also losing our bacterial diversity within our stomach and even facing extinctions of gut bacteria which are causing all sorts of health ailments such as obesity, exema, IBS, leaky gut syndrome, anxiety and depression.


Although there are many conservations actions we can take to support biodiversity, becoming aware of the plight of biodiversity on our planet can be really overwhelming, especially as the problems seem so large. Yet supporting nature can be as simple as building awareness, respect and awe. Building a better personal relationship to nature is a simple thing you can do right now, no matter where you live. As Rumi, a 13th Century poet said,

“Yesterday I was so clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”


Next time you are walking, even if it’s in the middle of a city, notice the biodiversity that you can and cannot see. Sit with a tree or plant. Notice the amount of life that lives on that tree. Be thankful for the shade it provides, the filtering of air it provides, the carbon it is securing. Notice a spider and find awe in how he effortlessly weaves his web. See the soil beneath your feet and imagine the millions of micro lifeforms that are helping to sustain life.

Awe is the salve that will heal our lives.”

~ RUMI ~

When we become aware and give nature our respect and sit in awe of it, we build better relationships to nature. Being in conscious connection with nature shifts how we live and allows us to make healthier choices for both ourselves and the planet.



the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now

About the Author

Emma Hawthorne is a professional performer of 15 years, a linguistics graduate from Sydney University and currently studying a Masters in Conservation Biology at Macquarie University. She aims to help people connect to nature, creativity and wellbeing.

Emma Hawthorne sitting at the beach

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