The term “biodiversity” describes the variety of life on earth, whether it is the diversity of genes, species, or ecosystems. When speaking of environmental habitats or ecosystems, we are referring to a spectrum of interdependent life, including animals, plants, birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and even fungi and micro-organisms; at EcoLogic we also know that people are an intrinsic and interdependent part as well.
Healthy and stable populations of native species are important to a healthy ecosystem because they increase the resilience of the environment—or the ability of the area to “bounce back” when catastrophic events occur, such as hurricanes, droughts, or forest fires. Biological diversity and healthy ecosystems also provide humankind with many of the elements that sustain our lives, including clean air and water, fertile soil, a stable climate, food, medicine, materials and technologies, and a diversity of genes and species—not to mention recreation and natural beauty.
EcoLogic works in Central America and southern Mexico, a global “hotspot” for biodiversity. A “hotspot” is a region that has more than 1,500 endemic vascular plant species—or more than 0.5 percent of the world’s total—but has lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat. Central America and Mexico are traditionally home to a significant number of the world’s species—including at least 17,000 plants (17 percent endemic), 1,113 birds (19 percent endemic), 440 mammals (15 percent endemic), 240 reptiles (35 percent endemic), and 555 amphibians (64.5 percent endemic). Central America alone makes up barely 0.1% of the world’s landmass, but is home to 7% of the world’s biolgical diversity. Yet this region is losing its remaining habitat, including forest, grasslands, mangroves, and freshwater bodies at one of the highest rates worldwide. As one example, from 2000-2010, the rate of loss of forest in Central America was 1.19 percent a year, compared with a global rate of loss of 0.13 percent; forested area in Central America shrank from 21.9 million hectares in 2000 to 19.4 million hectares in 2010.
Central America and southern Mexico are also home to some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world, which plays a significant hand in creating the destructive relationship that exists between human activity and the natural environment. EcoLogic collaborates with rural and indigenous communities to find solutions that are ecologically and economically sensible and that strengthen local organizations doing the same. We help with natural resource management plans, monitoring and evaluation, environmental education campaigns, reforestation, and the establishment of sustainable agricultural practices, including agroforestry (to name just a few). We also collaborate to strengthen local governance structures to improve a community’s ability to respond and manage external pressures, such as those that seek to exploit local natural resources. Together with our local partners and community members, we work to stabilize and restore ecosystems in ways that are beneficial to the local people and also to the plant and animal life around them.