“Why are you worrying about Rhinos in a country like Nepal, where people are fighting for food?” As a conservation activist, this is a question I face very often. Though I always try to convince using technical arguments, those asking are not wrong either. But the fact is, conservation issues everywhere goes parallel with the problems of poverty, climate change, food scarcity and conflict among others. However, it’s high time that the youth of this generation understood the significance of conservation and took conscious actions.

Biodiversity might not sound significant on the surface, but in reality it has a series of imperative relation with us. It’s the variety of life on earth – the variation of genes, species, and biomes, along with the interactions between them. Currently, world’s species is declining due to Habitat loss, Invasive Species, Pollution, Population over growth and Over exploitation (HIPPO). The youth’s concern on this situation is very important, because not only is our generation affected, but the generations to follow will be adversely affected by the human-induced biodiversity loss.

A research on Bee has concluded that if bees get extinct, human beings will only have four years to live. No more bees would mean no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, and eventually, no more human existence.

Our energy primarily depends on plants and animals. Our body contains trillions of cells, each of which is connected to the other, forming a rather complex system. Given, we human beings are superior in the brain-ware but we shouldn’t forget that we share the planet with as many as 13 million different living species including flora, fauna and microbes, only 1.75 million of which have been named. This incredible biodiversity is a priceless treasure, and this nature’s grant forms the ultimate foundation of human life. These millions of fellow beings are collectively working to produce food, water and clean air, making earth the only living planet in the solar system. They are directly and indirectly supporting the living structure of earth, each one species contributing equally to maintain the ecological balance. The loss of a single species is not only a cultural tragedy, but it also undermines our own survival.

Biodiversity’s contribution to our life is not only practical, physical and functional, but also cultural. The diversity of the natural world has been a constant source of inspiration throughout human history, influencing civilization, the way our society has evolved and supplying the basic goods and services upon which trade and economy has been built. The disappearance of unique species like Rhino is a loss that cannot be calculated and leaves us all much poorer.

According to the 2011 census, nearly 55 per cent of the total population of Nepal is below 25 years of age. Recognizing this important demographic cluster, concerned authorities need to reach out to their expectations and ideas to inculcate awareness among them on environmental stewardship, nurture lifelong skills to manage the environment sustainably and, ultimately empower them to incorporate environmental issues as part of their lives, especially those who live in rural areas, where biodiversity exploitation takes place. Most rural young people are not aware of the value of biodiversity. Proper awareness programs, campaigns and trainings could play a vital role to change their attitude and promote the values of biodiversity conservation. This will also encourage them to share nature’s benefits fairly and equitably.

However, if we aren’t able to do so, the impact will be felt not only by us, but by future generations. Therefore, we need to raise a cadre of leaders who understand the immense value of biodiversity.

Kumar Paudel is the founder of Greenhood Nepal and currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Environment Management at Pokhara University.

This Article was initially printed in the Republica National Daily on September 22 2013; World Rhino Day. 

Article by Kumar Paudel-Nepal

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