World leaders at COP26 have agreed a deal that aims to halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030. This is a great step forward to restore 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

Young Ambassador Dan explains why biodiverse forests are so important.

Biodiversity is having an abundance of different organisms living within an ecosystem.

Forests are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth, host to all manner of organisms from fungi to trees and from ants to a huge variety of birds.

There has been a growing trend recently for companies to plant their own forests to help offset their CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, these ‘forests’ often turn out to be monoculture plantations or ‘green deserts’ made up of only one species of tree. Whilst these can be effective at helping to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they can have negative implications on biodiversity, as they take over land which could be used far more effectively to help mitigate climate change.

Monoculture forests are typically barren and devoid of animal life.

Youtuber ‘Atlas Pro’ put the importance of forest diversity perfectly in his video on how to build a forest, saying ‘one species may provide the preferred seeds for a bird to eat while another may grow leaves that are good for the construction of nests, and yet another tree’s branches may grow in a way that makes nest-building possible.’ In monoculture forests, this is not possible, due to there being only one species of tree. This means that land that could be used to boost biodiversity and endangered species populations is instead being used ineffectively.

Maintaining biodiversity is also important in the fight against climate change.

Monoculture plantations are much more susceptible to pests and diseases. The great green wall in China was started to help prevent the expansion of the Gobi desert, it has also become a useful tool in the fight to mitigate climate change. Unfortunately, the project focused on growth as opposed to biodiversity, with only a few tree species being planted, and as such, in the year 2000, around 1 billion trees were killed from pests due to the lack of diversity.

We face a similar problem in the UK due to ash dieback disease.

Biodiverse forests are less susceptible to disease as trees of the same species are not necessarily close to each other, meaning disease will spread slower. This will mean that trees, and in turn forests, will live longer, meaning more carbon can be sequestered, proving to be more effective in the fight against climate change.

Read more about natural climate solutions

What can we do to help improve biodiversity?

There are a number of activities that we can do at home to help promote biodiversity, and restore 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.

Planting shrubs and bushes in your garden is a brilliant way to attract more animals into your garden by providing food and shelter for them, as well as sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.

Bee and pollinator-friendly seed packs are widely available at garden centres throughout Wiltshire, and planting these seeds in window boxes or in gardens is excellent for helping to improve habitats for butterflies and bees that have been lost in previous decades.

Setting aside corners of your garden for a ‘wild corner’, if you have the space, is another great way to help improve biodiversity in your garden. Leaving this area untouched will allow for more wildflowers and weeds to grow, attracting all manner of insects to the area. You can kickstart these ‘wild corners’ by creating an insect hotel or planting wildflowers.

Using the aforementioned ideas, you may not only help to improve biodiversity and to sequester more carbon, but it may help to liven up your garden by drawing more animals to your garden.

See more actions for wildlife in your garden

Tips for gardening in Autumn from Michael New, Project Ecologist:

1. Leave the ivy covering your fence or tree so that the late flowers can be a food source for late butterflies such as Red Admiral and bees. These insects are feeding up before they hibernate in the deep depth of the ivy bush.

2. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides when clearing up as this will kill many of the beneficial insects and plants that will pollinate your tomatoes and eat the pests on broad beans as well as killing the native plants that the small tortoiseshell butterfly feeds on.

3. If you need to cut down some herbaceous plants, tie them together with twine if they contain seed heads and tie them to the bird table for the Goldfinches.

4. Leaves that drop from the trees can be raked up and piled in a corner for your neighbourhood hedgehog to sleep in.