Biodiversity and Healthy Communities
Written by Plant With Purpose on May 26, 2016 in General
Plant With Purpose aims not only to alleviate poverty, but to break the cycle of poverty experienced by the rural poor. In assessing optimal ways to equip partners, we often discuss the value of biodiversity—the diversity of life found in a specific ecosystem including plants, animals, and microorganisms.
Biodiversity plays an integral role in the health of every ecosystem. It is also necessary for the survival of the rural poor whose lives depend on their immediate ecosystems. Biodiversity provides necessary subsistence, assists with income, and acts as an insurance against risk. Plant With Purpose program officer Milmer Martinez shares, “A biodiverse ecosystem is a healthy ecosystem. A community within a healthy ecosystem is a resilient community.”
There are many dimensions to the link between poverty and biodiversity with patterns overlapping from place to place. Ecosystems shift slightly from location to location with microclimates, soil conditions, and elevation playing into the life supported in a specific area. For this reason, each community with which Plant With Purpose works must be approached uniquely. Recent precedence in the program department has set into practice that before work begins in a new watershed, our team conducts a baseline biodiversity survey to determine best practices and track improvements over time. By assessing plant and bird diversity at the start of a project, we are able to answer the question: Are our interventions, projects, and approach restoring and strengthening the ecosystem?
Plant With Purpose Dominican Republic recently performed an extensive biodiversity survey in the upper Ozama River watershed. The nature of the survey is almost as significant as the findings. Unique to this survey was the level of collaboration. The survey was conducted by representatives from the National Zoo of Santo Domingo, the Botanical Garden, the Dominican Adventist University, the Ministry of Environment, and Plant With Purpose. Surveyors included local community participants from Ozama and 50 students from Los Guineos High School. In preparation for the field study, surveyors attended a two-day workshop hosted by the National Zoo and visited the Botanical Garden for a trial survey of local vegetation.
Milmer Martinez was present during the trainings as well as on the day that the surveying occurred. He is confident that, “The exercise will build awareness and a sense of ownership for the natural environment and the individual’s role in taking care of it.”
The biological results of the survey will take time to analyze; however, several goals have already been realized. The practice will improve understanding of biodiversity as a tool to improve livelihood, will highlight positive and/or negative effects on the ecosystem, and guide our interventions and methodologies to best serve each community.
We hope to see wildlife return to their natural habitats, enthusiasm increase for reforestation efforts, and a greater understanding of environmental stewardship in partnering communities. Join Plant With Purpose in expressing the importance of biodiversity, especially in rural areas where the health of ecosystems is crucial for survival.