This article was updated on March 3rd, 2021.
Today we celebrate World Wildlife Day, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013. Today not only marks the day the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora was signed in 1973, but this year specifically is dedicated to “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”, as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species, and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.
According to World Wildlife Day, between 200 and 350 million people live within or adjacent to forested areas around the world, relying on the various ecosystem services provided by forest and forest species for their livelihoods and to cover their most basic needs, including food, shelter, energy and medicines.
Indigenous peoples and local communities are at the forefront of the symbiotic relationship between humans and forest, forest-dwelling wildlife species, and the ecosystem services they provide. Roughly 28% of the world’s land surface is currently managed by indigenous peoples, including some of the most ecologically intact forests on the planet. These spaces are not only central to their economic and personal well-being, but also to their cultural identities.
What Can We Do?
Although this year, due to the pandemic all events will be virtual, there’s many things we can all do to celebrate World Wildlife Day.
- Watch the World Wildlife Day celebration today and share it with everyone you can!
- Learn about the forest ecosystems and wildlife species nearest you and the threats they face. You can sign up for alerts from the Animal Welfare Institute, volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and look into joining the Endangered Species Coalition Activist Network. You can also sign up for weekly email newsletters created by The New York Times, National Geographic, the BBC, or Scientific American who have specialized newsletters that focus specifically on climate change and wildlife issues.
- Look at the work of Indigenous and civil society groups like Alianza Ceibo, in Ecuador, or Vie Sauvage, in D.R. Congo, to learn about their efforts and their paths to a sustainable relationship with nature.
- Help promote conservation and sustainable use of forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
- Engage in conversations about World Wildlife Day with your peers at work or school.
If you want to go beyond the suggestions above, you can also make some small changes to make your home safe for wildlife passing through. By securing lids to garbage and recycling bins that stay outside, you can prevent animals from getting into your garbage and consuming dangerous substances. You can also reduce water usage in your home by taking shorter showers, washing dishes without leaving the sink running, and turning off the sprinkler until you need it. Also, consider putting decals on your windows too, which can prevent birds from flying into them and hopefully decreasing the millions of bird collisions that occur annually. Finally, drive slowly in areas where there could be an animal crossing, the laws of the road are only known to humans.
Every purchase is a vote of support. Although it is not always affordable or available when you can try to invest in products that make a commitment to protecting this earth. Look into natural replacements for poisonous and harmful herbicides. When traveling, avoid buying souvenirs that are made from or threaten endangered species, like ivory, feathers, and furs. Write, email, and reach out to your elected officials to protect the biodiversity and life in your communities.
#DoOneThingToday to help the world’s biodiversity and the world can be a better place tomorrow.