Every year on June 5th, over 100 countries around the world celebrate World Environment Day! As the United Nations' flagship day for promoting global awareness of environmental concerns, World Environment Day is a powerful platform that engages governments, communities, and individuals to take critical action to combat environmental issues.
The theme for this year's World Environment Day is biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of life within a given ecosystem or particular environment. It encompasses the millions of species that populate Earth, including plants, animals, bacteria, in all the various ecosystems of the world such as the ocean, forests, coral reefs, and even your backyard. When an ecosystem is rich in biodiversity, the ecosystem is healthy.
More biodiversity means better water quality and less pollution, thereby indicating a healthy ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems provide a host of functions for human survival such as reducing the occurrence of natural disasters, providing raw materials and medicines, and food availability to name a few. However, the repercussions of human activity such as greenhouse gas emissions and noise, air, and water pollution can disrupt ecosystems and jeopardize their health. Accordingly, we have a duty to think about how our actions impact the world's biodiversity and our ability to protect it. If we don't care for our ecosystems and ensure rich biodiversity, our planet's health and our health will deteriorate. Luckily, there are a variety of great ways that we can help!
Monitoring biodiversity can be done on a variety of scales. Here at HOK we monitor and facilitate the growth of native ecosystems rich with biodiversity on the community level by implementing a variety of projects across Ko'olaupoko that address land-based pollution and watershed health. One of these projects that can be implemented in your backyard is our rain garden! Rain gardens are a great way to reduce the amount of pollution that enters streams and the ocean by intercepting storm water. HOK has developed the Hawai'i State Rain Garden Manual, a do-it-yourself guide to locating, building, and planting a rain garden appropriate for your property. The manual is available for free download on our website and is available at public libraries on all islands. Contact HOK if you would like to purchase a hard copy!
If you're interested in increasing native species biodiversity in your home gardens, visit our Kaha Native Garden! This project replaced invasive species with native Hawaiian plants that aid in soil stabilization, biofiltration, and water conservation. Tour the garden pathways to see how plantings might appear in your own backyard, or for a more in-depth understanding of how these plants may add value to your backyard, consider volunteering with us in the future! (HOK continues to abide by social distancing and stay-at-home orders, and has cancelled all community workdays until it is safe for us all to work side-by-side again.)
As we begin to venture into the ecosystems beyond our front door, World Environment Day provides us with an opportunity to both revisit our relationship with our environment, and to cultivate environmental awareness into our lifestyles. For more information on how you can get involved with World Environment Day and to learn more about biodiversity, visit the official World Environment Day website here.
The mission of Hui o Ko`olaupoko is to protect ocean health by restoring the `aina: mauka to makai. This is done in partnership with stakeholders including interested citizens, non-governmental organizations, government, educational institutions and businesses while using and focusing on sound ecological principles, community input, and cultural heritage.