May 22nd is International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity in Finland: lizard, sphagnum moss, red squirrel, woodpecker, European peacock, mushroom.
Biodiversity in Finland. Top left to right: viviparous lizard (Picture Helena Rönkä), sphagnum moss (Picture Jouni Borgman), red squirrel (Picture Helena Rönkä). Bottom left to right: Three-toed woodpecker (Picture Ilkka Markkanen), European peacock (Picture Jukka Kettunen), boletus mushroom (Picture Jouni Borgman).

May 22nd marks the International Day for Biological Diversity, promoted by the United Nations. A good occasion to look at the reasons why biodiversity is important and what steps the City of Kuopio takes to conserve it!

The term biodiversity refers to the variety of all lifeforms on earth, but also their environments, complex interactions and the genetic diversity between organisms. While for many people, prominent species such as polar bears or tigers come to mind first, biodiversity is often at its richest on a much smaller scale. The most diverse group of organisms on earth are insects!

Many species on earth are currently declining, threatened by factors such as habitat loss due to human activity and climate change. Recent studies suggest that as many as one million species could be threatened with extinction.

How do we benefit from species richness on our planet?

Biodiversity is essential for proper functioning of ecosystems and the processes that provide us with both healthy food and water. For example, many of the trees producing fruit for human consumption rely on insect-mediated pollination. Another example can be found beneath ground: A plethora of microbes living in the soil provide nutrients helping crops grow.

Aside from food production, biodiversity also aids us in battling disease. Substances discovered in plants and fungi have provided us with some of the most widely used medicines. To name just one: acetylsalicylic acid, the active component of Aspirin, is derived from a substance found in willow bark. It is likely that many more of these constituents are yet to be discovered!

Other ways we benefit from biodiversity are less straightforward, but no less important. For instance, diverse and healthy plant vegetation along rivers and coastlines greatly reduces the risk of flooding human settlements close-by.

City of Kuopio’s Biodiversity Program

In the case of Kuopio, diverse and beautiful nature is part of the wealth of the city. Lush forests and clean lakes invite residents for leisurely activities and relaxation and attract visitors from abroad.

The city’s Biodiversity Program (LUMO) contains the most important objectives and measures that the city can use to ensure the preservation of biodiversity in its own activities. It includes, for example, protecting valuable sites and endangered species, controlling invasive alien species and improving green connections. The Biodiversity Program was updated and approved by the City Council in May 2024 and is now valid until 2030. It will be published soon on the website of City of Kuopio.