TODAY is World Environment Day. While our lives have been put on hold by the pandemic, for many of Earth’s inhabitants the world is continuing as before, unaware of what’s happening.

Spring is in full flow. Mating seasons have started, flowers are blooming and annual migrations are reaching their peak. We have even seen suggestions that lockdown has had many positive environmental impacts, including some wildlife reclaiming urban spaces.

In 2020, our planet’s biodiversity is facing a landmark year. The UN Convention on Global Biodiversity is due to set out new goals for protecting nature, the last of which were set out in 2010. The UN is also putting Time for Nature at the front of today’s World Environment Day, encouraging all of us to raise our voices to tell the world that we need action now.

One problem facing the UK is a lack of awareness about the importance of biodiversity, which simply means the variety of life in a particular place. Scotland is home to over 90,000 species of animals, plants and microbes. This includes eagles, deer and salmon, but also trees, earthworms and microscopic bacteria. And, of course, humans.

Humans have quite the impact on biodiversity around the world. Industry, farming, housing developments, new roads, pollution and even the noise we create have all had negative effects on biodiversity.

The 2019 State of Nature report for Scotland pointed out that we are one of the most deforested countries in Europe and that we’ve experienced a ‘net loss’ of nature.

We must all understand the importance of biodiversity and the role it plays in our planet’s future - the impact of decreasing biodiversity will be felt most by the generations yet to come.

Glasgow Science Centre has several programmes that help young people discover nature and learn about conservation. Our partnership with the Clyde River Foundation is testament to just how successful this type of initiative can be.

Clyde in the Classroom is a yearly programme that invites primary school children to learn about the life cycles of brown trout, understand the health of local streams and develop scientific thinking skills along the way.

Each class is provided with a tank of trout eggs, which they keep for a few weeks before the Clyde River Foundation takes the class to a local stream to release the hatchlings. This understanding of the importance of clean water and the life cycles of wildlife. The hands-on approach is an excellent way to nurture a keen interest in our biodiversity. More than 30,000 pupils have taken part over the past 20 years.

This is just one of many excellent programmes that we deliver at Glasgow Science Centre to engage audiences with the importance of nature. We have introduced children and young people to Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, Giant African Land Snails and Giant African Millipedes, all of which can be seen on our online engagement initiative #GSCAtHome.

Whether it’s workshops for early years on the importance of minibeasts, community learning programmes on climate change or even the educational films shown on the IMAX screen, we recognise our role in ensuring that biodiversity is understood, protected and valued by all in Scotland and across the UK.

Increasing Scotland’s biodiversity may seem like a mammoth task, but there are ways we can all help, whether it’s planting bee-friendly flowers and plants, using eco friendly products and reducing our carbon emissions.

You can find out more about World Environment Day by visiting the website here and download their practical guide for things you can do at home during lockdown.