When I look around at the wonderful natural world we live in I wonder will it survive long enough for my future grandchildren to enjoy the wonders I enjoy. Just yesterday, I watched a pine marten scampered up my lawn. For centuries these amazing mammals were persecuted to such an extent that they became rare. Thankfully though numbers have recovered somewhat here in Ireland, but still this is only the second pine marten I have seen in three years.
Throughout the world, wild flora and fauna are in a constant state of flux. Current extinction rates are thought to be 1,000 times higher than natural background rates and much of this is due to human activities. This may be destruction of habitats, climate change, over exploitation of resources (e.g. fish stocks). As the human population grows so too does our impact on the natural world.
What are we prepared to lose? There are less than 4000 tigers left in the wild, and only about 880 mountain gorillas.
Closer to home more than half of Ireland’s bee species have undergone substantial declines in their numbers since 1980. It is estimated that 30% of Irish bee species are threatened with extinction. Of our twenty bumblebee species four are thought to be endangered.
Tigers, mountain gorillas, and even pine martens are amazing animals and there is no doubt in my mind but that the world would be a much poor place without them. Bees have yet another role. They are essential pollinators of many of our food crops, in particular fruit and vegetables.
Shouldn’t we be saving them for posterity?