The United Nations has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYOB), a year-long celebration of biological diversity and its value for life on Earth. Throughout the world, individuals and organisations are promoting biodiversity.
Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. We share the planet with as many as 13 million different living species including plants, animals and bacteria, but unbelievably only 1.75 million of them have been named and recorded! The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend.
In Australia, national events are being coordinated by the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) with funding from the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR). The Western Australian Museum and the Australian Museum each host a part-time IYOB Coordinator, to make this initiative happen. Based at the WA Museum in Perth is Teresa Belcher, coordinating WA, SA and NT events. Looking after events in NSW, VIC, QLD, ACT and TAS is Val Gregory, based at the Australian Museum in Sydney.
During 2010, museums across Australia are working with people and communities to discover, celebrate and promote biodiversity, and encourage participation in biodiversity events all around the country. There have already had three Rounds of funding for grants where over 30 organisations have been awarded up to $5,000 to hold community events.
To promote what’s going on around Australia, a ‘biodiversity hub’ website has been developed (http://www.biodiversity2010.org.au/) to advertise events and allow people to have their ‘say’ to show the difference they are making.
The site is gradually growing in size, but we encourage YOU to visit and make a contribution. There is an easy-to-fill-in form which allows you to ‘Add an Event’, making your event part of our searchable calendar, that is also promoted more widely throughout Australia via our Biodiversity Bulletin.
In addition, we are encouraging people to create a ‘story’ about their activities that relate to biodiversity. This may be about specific research in biodiversity – some of you are working on identifying those 11 million plus species yet to be named while others may be looking at the bigger picture by working ecosystems and climate change. You may be involved in a conservation group and could write a feature about a threatened species. You may be involved with community eco-education projects to help clean up our beaches, parks and reserves where wild plants and animals live. Perhaps you are doing your bit at home to increase the biodiversity in your neighbourhood by making wildlife more welcome in your backyards by providing water, food, shelter and privacy. You may have built a frog pond or introduced plants that attract more insects. We’d like to hear about all of these things, because, as you can see, every small step helps!
We’d also like see photos and videos that can be uploaded to our site via Flick and YouTube. Lastly, you may like to interact with us on Twitter (@bio2010aus) and use the hashtag #iyob2010 to promote your events and work further. Or send us an email and we can do this for you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Teresa Belcher- teresa.belcher [at] museum.wa.gov.au
Val Gregory – valerie.gregory [at] austmus.gov.au