Biodiversity improves ecosystem productivity and treaties have been signed to protect it (Biosafety Protocol 2000). According to the European Commission, biodiversity helps purify water and air, it improves soil quality and reduces carbon dioxide, and even creates cultural inspiration. Additionally, biodiversity and native planting helps create pollinator habitats. The systemic impacts of supporting pollinators include food production, energy use, and even future economic development.
Threats to biodiversity include suburban sprawl, roadway development, eutrophication, and human practices like certain farming practices and monoculture proliferation. So what does that mean for a city like South Bend?
Landuse is certainly an important component. Efforts like Unity Gardens’ focus on the health of bees can be bolstered with urban agriculture development plans and replanting areas dominated by single species of plants. It’s not just in typical answers like increasing street tree diversity, which certainly have been a primary monoculture culprit. Other monocultures reside in our parks as fields of turf grass. Strategic parks could be used to link together native/natural areas.
Biodiversity could also be used along the river to stabilize eroding slopes and amend water quality. Already serving as a corridor for species to move along, boosting the biodiversity along the river adds connection opportunities and improves the overall health of the river, South Bend’s greatest natural resource.