SBP supports and promotes multiple environmental conservation projects that aim to preserve and improve local biodiversity.
Local habitat creation and restoration projects that SBP supports can help offset the loss of habitat driven by human activities such as urban development, agriculture, and resource extraction. These efforts are predicated on the premise that for several flora and fauna, particularly those that do not require large ranges/territories, even small pockets of native habitats could be sufficient to ensure their survival. A scientific study published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences validates this approach and also emphasizes the immediate and urgent need for such efforts. In their global analysis, Wintle et al. (2019) show that “if we gave up on small patches of vegetation, we would stand to lose many species that are confined to those environments, and biodiversity would decline as a result. We should rethink the way we prioritize conservation to recognize the critical role that small, isolated patches play in conserving the world’s biodiversity. Restoring and reconnecting small isolated vegetation patches should be an immediate conservation priority” (1).
The native tree planting drives that SBP supports aim to attract native wildlife, particularly in areas where (un)intentional planting of non-native plants (which cannot support the food, shelter, or reproductive needs of local wildlife) and urbanization have drastically reduced biodiversity. Planting trees that are native to an area and removing alien/invasive species have proven to be highly successful in improving local biodiversity. One example of such efforts can be found in La Sabana Park in downtown San José, Costa Rica located in a very urban area next to the National Stadium and other sports facilities (2). An assessment of species diversity in 2008 showed only 13 species of resident birds in this Park which was dominated by eucalyptus and other non-native trees. Through a joint effort of public sector and private companies, the “Una Nueva Sabana” project was started in 2011 to improve the Park’s biodiversity by populating the Park with 5,000 trees of native species and removing non-native trees. A species count, or “Taxathon” undertaken by researchers and volunteers in 2017 showed over 100 species in the Park. This ongoing 6-year old project also attracted new species of birds and mammals such as the whistling duck and the four species of bats never seen there before! “Taxathon also is bringing the general population closer to science and to scientific knowledge ” (2).
The citizen science projects and other initiatives that SBP promotes also aim to “bring citizens closer to science” and educate them about the natural world. These projects will help scientists in acquiring data which will in turn inform conservation policy.
All these projects that SBP sponsors will not only improve and protect biodiversity, but will also have a cumulative effect in reducing pollution and in mitigating climate change impacts.
- Wintle, B.A., Kujala, H., Whitehead, A., Cameron, A., Veloz, S., Kukkala, A., Moilanen, A., Gordon, A., Lentini, P.E., Cadenhead, N.C.R., and Bekessy, S.A. 2019. Global synthesis of conservation studies reveals the importance of small habitat patches for biodiversity. PNAS 116(3):909-914. https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/116/3/909.full.pdf)
- Arias. 2017. Tree-replacement project is improving biodiversity at San José’s La Sabana Park. The Tico Times. http://www.ticotimes.net/2017/03/07/tree-sabana-costa-rica
The very first project that we funded is well underway! Saint Peter’s University in NJ was awarded a grant in the summer of 2018 to restore a natural habitat and promote biodiversity by creating a “Native Plant Garden for Birds and Pollinators” on campus grounds. SBP will continue to provide assistance for this project as well as for the University’s ongoing Citizen Science projects.