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24 May, 2020 09:41:46 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 24 May, 2020 09:43:11 PM
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Musing on nature during global lockdown

We need to reconsider or redesign our linear economic system. In the midst of economic crisis due to lockdown, we need to think about the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystem. We need green economy, meaning growth keeping the environment alive.
Arif M. Faisal and Tanzina Dilshad
Musing on nature during global lockdown

Every morning, city people generally used to wake up to a lot of traffic noise and loud honking. Now, our days start with sweet chirping of birds and blowing of cleaner breeze. Even from balcony, now we behold greener canopy and dancing butterfly, besides feeling the cleaner air. 
All these near blissful encounters come, however, at the cost of imposition of economic lockdown around the globe to stem COVID-19 disease. 
All over the world, people are fighting with an unseen enemy—the novel coronavirus. While humans decide to stay at home and practise isolation, nature is responding and restoring in its own way. 

Dolphins, turtles and red crabs are now playing at empty the seashore at Cox’s Bazar. It is reported that dune vegetation such as Sagarlata (Beach Morning Glory) is back on the beach.

Not in Bangladesh, all over the world we have witnessed similar events. Deer wandered at an empty Paris street, civet cats roamed in the Indian state of Kerala, a puma turned up in the centre of the Chilean capital Santiago. All happened during the global lockdown. 
It is like reminding the humans of the fact that how only one species in nature (the human) has snatched the freedom of all the others. Our only growth-focused economic activities have wrought great havoc on the Mother Nature.

Globally, one million species are at risk of extinction due to anthropogenic activities. The loss of biodiversity ecosystem has been ranked as one of the top five threats facing the humanity in the next ten years, according to the Global Risk Report 2020 by World’s Economic Forum. 
Rapid destruction of natural ecosystem and biodiversity loss due to human impingement may have impacts on the diseases. Covid-19, ebola, SARS, swine and avian flu, and HIV are all zoonotic diseases. Since the 1980s, the number of emerging outbreaks of infectious disease has almost tripled and more than two thirds of these diseases have originated from wild animals. In ecosystem, every species has its own role, making the ecosystem functional.

Replacing one species with others has a huge impact on ecosystem. When one species is out of balance, others follow the same fate. The outbreak of dengue is one such example. We all know that guppy fish and frogs used to eat mosquitoes’ larvae, while crows eat garbage and Bengal vultures used to eat dead animals and birds’ flesh. Now the Bengal vultures are disappearing, and we are the worst sufferer of dengue fever.

Again, Nipah virus emerged from bats. Deforestation drove them from their habitats to homestead fruit gardens. HIV possibly entered human from Chimpanzee as people hunted and ate their meat. The health of human beings, wildlife, and the ecosystem is closely linked with each other.

We need to reconsider or redesign our linear economic system. In the midst of economic crisis due to lockdown, we need to think about the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystem. We need green economy, meaning growth keeping the environment alive.
Writer Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind mentioned that “Seventy thousand years ago, Homos Sapiens was still an insignificant animal minding its own business in a corner of Africa. In the following millennia it has transformed itself into the master of the entire planet and the terror to the ecosystem.”

This is the high time we thought about circular economy rather than the growth- led linear economy.
The United Nations has announced 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity to promote understanding and awareness about the importance of biodiversity among the people and society. This year's slogan “Our solutions are in nature” emphasizes hope, solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.

In Bangladesh, we should look forward to emphasizing nature-based solutions in all the development sectors through upcoming 8th five-year plan (July 2020–June 2025) and we also need to prepare biodiversity finance plan to identify and prioritize a mix of suitable biodiversity finance solutions to reduce the biodiversity finance gap.

Clock is ticking fast, so we should immediately take up a crash programme to implement the national biodiversity target by at least 2021.
Political commitment is key to implementing the plan to save biodiversity. Bangladesh parliament should immediately embark on implementation of ‘Planetary Emergency’ that was declared in November 2019, which includes both climate change and biodiversity.
The government should also consider imposing temporary or seasonal ban access of tourists or visitors to protected areas and ecologically critical areas to help support regeneration of wildlife.

Promoting urban biodiversity and green urbanization should also not be ignored. City mayors can explore ways and relevant agencies such as forest department can cooperate with.

A peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife is possible provided that appropriate management tools, public policies and societal support are present. The 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic is a lesson learnt for humanity. Our earth can heal herself while our duty is to help the healing process. We just need to adjust our rhythm with nature's beat.

The authors are working with UNDP Bangladesh

(The views expressed in this article are of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of their employer.) 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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