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7 species we must protect to feed the planet

La sopravvivenza della nostra specie è legata a quella di piante e animali che rischiano di scomparire a causa del nostro impatto. Ecco quelle da proteggere a tutti i costi.

Most of human diet is characterised by man-grown plants and domesticated animals, yet numerous wild species, both vegetable and animal, are crucial for the planet’s food security. According to WWF, the current wild species extinction rate is due to man-related activities, and it is 1,000 times higher than natural extinction rate. This phenomenon, alongside depleting the planet, jeopardises man’s survival that is strictly linked to that of biodiversity. Particularly, there are 7 species to be protected by any means in order to feed the planet.

 

Wild bananas

Banana is considered to be the world’s most known fruit, cultivated by over 400 million people. However, a recent strain of fungal plant pathogen (Fusarium oxysporum cubense) is decimating the crops of Cavendish banana, the world’s most cultivated species. Several Asian wild bananas turned out to be resistant to the parasite and researchers are now testing the graft of their genes in the Cavendish. However, the relentless deforestation carried out in South East Asia is threatening the survival of such species, and they could disappear before we understand their real importance.

 

banane selvatiche
Wild bananas

 

Bees

Pollinators, i.e. animals helping flowers expand their ranges and reproduce, are responsible for one third of the food we eat. Their rapid decline, due to pesticides and habitat loss, is putting at risk the survival of many agricultural varieties. Without bees, crops like almonds, apples, and avocados would disappear, resulting in an increase in global malnutrition.

 

ape
Bee

 

Sharks

Every year, about 100 million sharks are killed, many of them hunted only for their fins, which are considered a delicacy despite their low nutritional value. Shark disappearance would have disastrous effects. Being at the top of the food chain, they play a fundamental role in regulating fish populations, which fishery represents the main source of proteins to 1 billion people.

 

A Group of Gray Reef Sharks swims around in the ocean.
Sandbar sharks

 

Potatoes

Potatoes are a basic food spread all over the world. However, the low genetic diversity and the prevalence of just few varieties make these tubers vulnerable to diseases. In order to guarantee the survival of such crops it is essential protecting wild varieties (South America is home to more than 4,000) and their habitats.

 

patate
Potatoes

 

Bats

Like bees and birds, bats are essential pollinators. These winged mammals ease the reproduction of wild banana trees in South East Asia and large baobabs in Africa. They also carry out ecosystem services such as seed dispersing and parasite reduction. In the United States alone, according to scientists, bats worth over 3.7 billion dollars per year, reducing crop damages and the need of pesticides.

 

pipistrello
Bat

 

Mangroves

Mangrove forests are important shelters to small fish of coral reefs. Underwater roots protect young fish from predators until they are old enough to look after themselves. Mangroves also provide habitats to different molluscs and are an essential source of food for many coastal communities. Despite their countless services, mangroves are relentlessly cut down for timber and to make space to shrimp farming.

 

foresta di mangrovie
Mangrove forest

 

Bivalves

Bivalves are a class of molluscs including species like mussels, oysters, and clams. Thousands of bivalve species can be found in marine and freshwater environments, from the Arctic Ocean to great lakes. These animals play an essential role. They filter pollutants in waters, creating healthier environments for other species, on which man feeds.

 

cozze
Mussels

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