The internet research was very interesting and I discovered a lot of information about the topic. From the United Nations biodiversity website I learnt that the main causes of declining biodiversity are:
- global warming
- intensive farming
- invasive species
This was confirmed by the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental pressure groups. They all described similar reasons for declining biodiversity. Maybe the most important ones that affect lots of different countries are intensive farming and deforestation.
In Kazakhstan the main cause seems to be pollution and increasing intensive farming. The consequences for birds and fishes in our waters are well known.
But how much were people in my city aware of this? The questionnaire was very helpful in answering this question.
Table 1 shows the main results from the questionnaire.
Table 1 – Summary of Questionnaire Results
|1. Identify three animals in the world in danger of extinction from a list.||Yes||No|
|2. Identify three plants in the world in danger of extinction from a list.||Yes||No|
|3. List five animals or plants in danger of extinction in Kazakhstan.||Yes||No|
|5. Do you think declining biodiversity is a problem?||Yes||No|
|6. Do you think that we are doing enough to protect the environment?||Yes||No|
This table shows that most people are aware that some animals in the world are in danger of becoming extinct but that they are less aware of plants and problems in their own country of Kazakhstan. For example, the questionnaires show that 69% or people could identify three animals but only 34% could identify three plants. Surprisingly, only a minority of people (38%) think that declining biodiversity is a problem, even when a majority think that we are not doing enough to protect the environment (58%). So there is some public awareness of the issue but not a lot.
Finally the unstructured interviews revealed that people were more aware of the need to do something than I expected from the results of the questionnaire. Many people in my city said that it was important to protect the environment and save animals and plants from extinction. Comments like, ‘We need to create protected areas and game reserves to help animals survive and keep poachers away’, were frequent. However the people they held responsible were governments, polluting businesses and poachers, rather than themselves. When asked about their own actions, many people said that they could do little. They said that they should stop buying certain products made from animals like whales or fur coats from endangered species. But the problems of climate change and pollution needed governments to act to have a real impact. People said things like, ‘Individuals can do something and should – recycle and live simply – but many can’t be bothered or don’t know enough about the issue to care’, were common. Lots of people said that the government must encourage change to get people to do something. Only a few people described recycling schemes and wildlife gardens, like in other countries, that we might be able to adopt here.
So the research showed that people here did not think it important for themselves to take action. This was surprising to me.