College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences

CAES celebrates International Day for Biological Diversity

The Department of Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences celebrated International Day for Biological Diversity on 21 May 2021 under the slogan "We’re part of the solution #For nature". The slogan was chosen to link to from last year’s, which was "Our solutions are in nature". The slogan served as a reminder that biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation of our very existence.

Angus Burns

As part of the celebration, Angus Burns delivered a lecture. He is the senior manager for the Worldwide Fund for Nature, South Africa’s Land and Biodiversity Stewardship Portfolio, and has formally been working in the conservation sector for over 25 years.

Burns included four vital truths that we should take to heart and apply as engines of change that we need to see in the world that is currently struggling.

  • Vital truth #1: Nature matters. It matters for our prosperity, health and wellbeing.
  • Vital truth #2: Climate change and nature loss are two sides of the same coin.
  • Vital truth #3: How we feed, fuel and finance ourselves is pushing nature to the brink.
  • Vital truth #4: The increased risk of pandemics and extreme "natural" disasters is a consequence of our fractured relationship with nature.

Burns concluded his lecture quoting Carl Sagan: "The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life, and there is nowhere else at least in the near future to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes, settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the earth is where we make our stand."

Rebotile Rachuene

The second guest lecturer was Rebotile Rachuene, a BSc student at Unisa. He explained to the audience that biodiversity can be viewed in different ways, and that to him biodiversity simply means seeing all life on this planet surviving or thriving well in their habitats. He also mentioned that humans form part of biodiversity, but in most cases, humans think that they are high up in the hierarchy of biodiversity.

He identified the following key roles for humanity:

  • Coming up with ideas that are cost effective and will not harm the environment in any way, such as the use of drones in agriculture.
  • Making sure that we use resources wisely in a manner that will sustain longevity.
  • People should not only be made aware, but should also be provided with ways they can use to protect the environment
  • Businesses have the responsibility and opportunity to help ensure governments adopt an agreement that supports nature and sustainability to unlock new opportunities and promote life on earth.
  • Whenever you can, support local businesses.

The central message of the celebration is that as biodiversity activists, we need to influence and assist in making sure that we take care of nature so that it can also take care of us.

* By Gugulethu Ngcobo, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

** Teaser image: Gossipguy, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Publish date: 2021/06/11