According to the Natural History Museum under half the adult population in the UK know what biodiversity is; rather fewer, you'd think, than could correctly identify Diversity, winners of last year's Britain's Got Talent. Perhaps this sort of thing is what the UN's International Year of Biodiversity
is trying to help correct. I wish it well, I agree wholeheartedly with its aims, and I support the charities it is promoting. Rather belatedly we're signing up as a partner. It's not just a question of establishing a basic understanding, though. People are not generally going to start creating wildflower meadows or changing the way they plant their gardens for altruistic reasons. They have to be motivated by a realization that the habitats they create will give them extra pleasure, at which point "wildlife gardening" will become the norm. People also have to understand that what is around them is complex and supports a huge range of animal species, and if anything that understanding is diminishing. The Editorial in the latest edition of ECOS, the journal of the British Association of Nature Conservationists
makes this point. Apparently, for example, a third of A level biology teachers know fewer than four common British wildflowers. Yikes. Time for more than a PR campaign.