World Wildlife Day 2021
The 3rd of March was proclaimed in 2013 as the United Nations World Wildlife Day. This is in conjunction with the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that took place in 1973. This is a very important and much celebrated day which raises awareness of plants and wildlife around the world! This day hopes to raise awareness on not only the planet as a whole and the threats it faces, but the vital interactions that take place between people, ecosystems, and wildlife. The theme for World Wildlife Day 2021 is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining people and planet”. This year’s theme aligns with several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals including: 1 – no poverty, 12 – responsible consumption and production, 13 – climate action, and 15 – life on land. These sustainable development goals and actions directly align with the continuous commitment to easing poverty, conserving biodiversity and ecosystems, and ensuring the sustainable use of resources. It is so important that we all know what is going on around the world and the importance of protecting natural habitats and the global biodiversity. World Wildlife Day is now considered the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife.
“What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Forests being key to this year's theme show the important role they play in the livelihoods of millions of people around the world. Forests cover approximately a third of the planet’s land surface, demonstrating the significance of its role in various ecosystem services and habitable area for forest species. South Africa’s Afromontane forests have a very limited range covering approximately 0.4% of the country’s landmass which helps in contributing to the conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity and economy. They provide shelter, food, water, amongst other needs required by those who depend upon them. Approximately half of the world's animal species can be found in rainforests, of which there are some that remain to be discovered. Forests are, therefore, vital in supporting human livelihoods and their well-being, particularly those of local and Indigenous people with a historic and cultural link to forested areas.
World Wildlife Day is a day of celebration of our wonderful planet, its natural habitats, and great biodiversity. However, this year’s forest theme aims to not only celebrate these special ecosystems but to highlight their importance and many threats they face. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem health are amongst some of the biggest threats to forests, along with deforestation and climate change, and more recently the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the social and economic sectors. Therefore, awareness is crucial in order to promote the protection and management of forests, all its inhabitants both fauna and flora, and establishing a more sustainable use of ecosystem services which they provide.
“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren, and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” – Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody) Nuxalk Nation
So how can you help this world wildlife day?
- Research more about your local forests, their importance, and those who are currently trying to protect them. Then help in raising awareness in line with the theme for World Wildlife Day 2021;
- Stay informed on other local and international environmental concerns and gain an understanding of your own individual impact on these ecosystems.
- Involve those around you in what you learn on the importance of forests and how to protect them;
- Recycle your paper (and other) products and choose recyclable options where possible;
- Ensure the foods and products you purchase are sustainably sourced and not of illegally sourced protected wildlife.
- Donate or volunteer your time to local conservation organisations and help in the protection of our planet.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” – Robert Swan