A seedy future

   Do not judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant

Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday 22nd May 2017 is the Convention on Biological Diversity’s International Day for Biological Diversity.

This day is to celebrate the incredible range of species our planet holds, but also to raise awareness of the rapid decline in species, now widely referred to as the sixth great extinction.

We humans have reached a point where we commonly agree that climate change is happening and that humans are having an impact, a moment’s search will provide thousands of references on that. What we are still less sure of is what changes we are going to see, when, how quickly and how those impacts will affect us.

We have begun to put things in place in efforts to preserve our future, things like the Paris Agreement attempt to create a global response, for example. This is designed to attempt to tackle the cause but at the other end of the scale programmes are also looking at prevention and mitigation efforts.

One such attempt is a global scale commitment to preserving seeds in multiple locations to ensure we can continue to grow crops way into the future. In the UK, the Millenium Seed Bank, in Wakehurst, Sussex and operated by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is one such project, which you can easily visit.

Another, is in Svalbard, using the natural environment in which it is positioned to hold seeds at -18 degrees C to ensure they remain viable for the very long term. Concerns were raised in 2015 when temperatures in the area meant that the set temperature was affected. Confidence in the solution is now in decline, however, as it is reported that the permafrost melting due to the warming climate has just flooded the entrance to the facility.

Plants are the start of life. Where water is present it is possible for plant species to evolve and colonise a habitat, gradually changing as the ecosystem develops and matures, starting from simple algae and mosses, through to grasses and herbs right up to the tallest of trees. All life depends on this.

Every species on the planet uses some part of every ecosystem to carve out its niche in which to survive.

We are no different. We must find water and food to survive, shelter to find safety, comfort and be able to rest and we must build communities in which we thrive. Through the entire ecosystem that is Planet Earth these simple facts are repeated with different boundaries for each species. Some survive in water but live on land, some never leave the ocean, some even spend almost every moment of their lives airborne, but the story for us all is the same.

We all have boundaries to our niche.

We find our partners within them, pass life onto offspring, find food and all the things we need within our relative boundaries.

Humans have an incredible capacity to push those boundaries with examples of settlements at a range of extremes, but the vast majority of us live within a narrow band of possibilities.

Those areas in which we thrive depend entirely on the ecosystems which provide us with all our needs. Technology blinds us to this simple fact and it is easy to believe that we ‘overcome’ nature. In fact we don’t. The resources available to us and all the other species we share our planet with are finite.

As they change the climate changes. As we disturb the natural cycles driven by the resources we extract, the life we draw from, we ultimately disturb the boundaries within which we live.

As more and more species disappear (estimated at 10,000 a year) the more our ecosystems change and we will all bear the results of that shift.

We have much to do. Every one of us can make a difference, by reconsidering the choices we make in our lives and in our work. We all have the potential to drive a positive change to contribute to our way back from the bleak future that is often painted for us.

What is lost can never be returned but for every single life still out there in the world there is time to make a difference.

It’s time to stop pointing fingers, stop feeling guilty for what has already been done and start planting seeds of change for the future because no matter what happens it is going to be very different from the present.


Catalicity believes that biodiversity is the root of our society, for that reason we hold a Corporate Membership of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, supporting their work to preserve ecosystems in the area from which we operate. 

This blog was written by Sandra Norval, our Managing Director who is passionate about our ecological diversity.


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