Biodiversity - What does it do for you?
Updated: Sep 28
This podcast is framed as a discussion between a teacher and a child, using provocations to think about the fundamental things that are keeping themselves alive, and thinking deeply about biodiversities role in those vital functions.
There’s something out there that not everyone knows about, but it does some very, very important stuff for all of us.
Have a think right now, what are some of the most important things happening, right this second, helping you to keep on being you? What is keeping you alive right now, and if you didn’t have it, well, you wouldn’t be alive anymore in about, oooh, 3 minutes.
*breathing sound effects*
Of course, we need to breathe the air! but let's be a bit more specific, what is it in the air that we really need?
Oxygen - O2
That's right! Without oxygen in the air, we wouldn’t have very long would we! Where does it come from?
Right again! But let's not give trees all the oxygen creating credit! There’s other plants out there too that all take energy from the sun, and create oxygen for us to breathe, do you know what that is called?
Thats right, so let's not forget about the grasses, shrubs, bushes, herbs, vines, and perhaps the biggest surprise of all. Seaweed! Did you know that seaweed, including the microscopic phytoplankton in the ocean, creates over half of the oxygen on earth that we need to breathe.
It’s pretty important we keep our ocean healthy then huh!
OK what is the next thing that we need to keep us alive, but it isn’t quite so urgent as breathing every second, but if we don’t put it into our bodies every so often we won’t last very long at all.
*tummy rumbling sound effect*
That's right, what did you have for breakfast today?
Muesli and an egg on toast, and some fruit.
Nice, that sounds like a big and healthy breakfast! Did you have milk with your museli?
Well done - ok then, lets try to figure out how many different plants and animals were needed for you to eat breakfast this morning
Oats, wheat, sugarcane, there’s three plants already.
raisins, almonds, corn, There’s another three plants.
Apples, bananas, oranges, for fruit, and there’s likely some other nuts and grains too from even more plants. So let’s say at least 10 plants were needed to be grown for your breakfast this morning.
Ok how about the animals. You had an egg, so that came from a chicken. You had milk that came from a cow, and you definitely needed bees as well.
Well, sometimes muesli has honey in it and bees make that, but another very important reason is that bees pollinate plants we need for our food. They are pollinators, like many other insects, and if they don’t fly from plant to plant spreading pollen around, then the fruits you just ate, just don’t grow! We absolutely need bees for our food!
We also need plants for our clothes, like cotton, and our buildings, like wood. For many medicines too. Overall, humans are much better off when there are many many different types of life on the planet. We call all these different species of plants, animals, fungi, the biodiversity of the planet. We’re a part of it too, but nowadays, more than any other animal, we rely on the existence of biodiversity for so much we do.
Biodiversity is the incredible variety of millions of different lifeforms on our planet. There is not just one frog. There’s a lot of different ones! In my backyard there are three that frogs that call, and they look very different from each other. One is a treefrog, one is a tiny froglet, and one is a big fat frog called pobblebonk.
What about birds?
I’ve seen more than 30 different types of birds visiting or flying over my house, so that is starting to get a bit more biodiverse.
Oh what birds are you talking about?
Hmm, well the King Parrots are gorgeous and they come everyday, the Black Cockatoos fly over our house, and their cousins the Sulphur-crested Cockies literally hang out on the powerlines, the wattlebirds and kookaburras wake me up each morning. New Holland Honeyeaters live here too - the colourful eastern rosellas sometimes visit and dig around the front lawn. Then there are rare raptor birds, birds of prey that sometimes visit like the collared sparrowhawk I saw once, or the Grey Goshawk.
So yeah, three different frogs, thirty different birds.. What number do you think is next? Here’s a tip, just add a zero.
Well actually, you have to double that to get to the number of different types of this animal I have seen at my house.
600! Of what!?
I have seen and taken photos, of over 600 different species of moths at my house. Big ones, small ones, colourful ones, grey ones. Ones with stripes and some with spots. Some that look like green leaves and some that look like brown leaves. Some that look like sap oozing out of a tree, some that don’t look like they could camouflage against anything at all. If you are like me and love biodiversity, then moths are about as cool as it gets.
Look, I know not everyone loves them but I think they’re really awesome. They are needed by the birds for food and they're needed by a lot of plants for pollination. We don’t really know just how important moths are to our environment. Look, at the very least, I want everyone to understand that we humans need biodiversity, for breathing, for the food we eat, for our medicines, we need it for our buildings and our clothes, and we need it so we can continue to be amazed by all the different life that we share this planet with. Go out and find a beetle during recess, or crush a leaf and see what it smells like. There’s something new and exciting to learn about nature and biodiversity everyday, if you want to.
So, should we go outside for a look?
Sounds good - I’ll see you out there.
Can you share how you would tell a group of children what biodiversity is?
Can you describe biodiversity in 20 words or less?
In what ways can teachers and children practice biodiversity in their own Place?