The challenges to biodiversity may seem overwhelming, but decisions are made one at a time, with each individual playing some part in making a difference. Durban residents and ratepayers have an extremely important role to play in protecting and enhancing biodiversity. Here are just some of the things you can do:

Plant indigenous

Plant an indigenous garden. Indigenous plants and trees thrive in local soil and climate conditions. They are resistant to pests and diseases and are more likely to attract local wildlife. Let your garden become a wildlife sanctuary in your community. We need to create a mosaic of these sanctuaries all through the city, attracting birds, butterflies and possibly even frogs. If you have a flat roof, you could even plant a ‘green roof’! Only a small layer of soil is needed to be able to start a productive garden on your roof, and this will also help to attract a variety of insects and birds.

Reduce your ecological footprint

Reduce your ecological footprint by doing things like reducing your use of electricity, conserving water, recycling materials and using environmentally products. Using electricity for example, increases the production of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. Climate change in turn poses a serious threat to biodiversity.

You can conserve energy at home by buying energy efficient appliances, using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, using natural light wherever possible and using blinds to reduce heat and the need for an air-conditioner. You can reduce further production of greenhouse gases by lowering your use of fuel. Start a lift club and share transport instead of driving alone.

Almost every resource that we use comes at some environmental cost, either through the direct use of a natural product (e.g. wood from trees to make paper; plants for medicinal purposes) or through the destruction of part of an ecosystem. For example, over-extraction of water reduces the ability of river ecosystems to function.  You can reduce your water consumption by watering your plants with ‘grey water’ (used water from your bathroom and kitchen) or by directing your gutters at home towards the lawn or a rain barrel instead of the pavement. The less water we use, the less damage is done to river ecosystems. The more each of us is able to reduce our footprint, the less we will demand from our natural resources and the lower the risk to biodiversity.

Become a Critical Consumer

Urban living cuts you off from nature. You are cut off from the sources of your food and the other resources you consume. You are also cut off from the places your waste is taken to. Develop more of an interest in the biodiversity consequences of your consumption.

Buy local fruit and vegetables that haven’t used enormous amounts of fuel to get to you. Wherever possible, select organic products that have been produced without the use of pesticides and fertilisers that are harmful to natural ecosystems and biodiversity.  Practice green consumerism by buying environmentally friendly products and refuse plastic bags when these are given to you. Plastic is a petroleum based-product and, since petroleum is a fossil fuel, greenhouse gases are released when plastic is produced. Greenhouse gases contribute towards climate change, posing a risk to biodiversity.

Become a Biodiversity Activist

Join a local conservancy which promotes biodiversity conservation, or start your own. Contribute to groups such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) that work to conserve biodiversity.

Familiarise yourself with regulations that govern zoning and the use of environmental servitudes and abide by these if your property falls into a category that requires environmental protection. Before developing land, consult with the EPCPD to find out about biodiversity constraints.