June 5, 2023
Biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers to the variety of life on Earth. The Earth’s biodiversity is so rich that we haven’t discovered all species, yet many are threatened by human activity though they are essential for sustaining life and well-being. In short, the more biodiverse an ecosystem is, the most stable and resilient it is. Unprecedented biodiversity loss has wide-ranging impacts that affect our daily lives, threatening food security, medicine discovery, availability of shelter, a habitable environment for us to live in, and even economic development. In fact, the United Nations reports that 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. Two programs funded through the Caterpillar Foundation are working to conserve biodiversity.
Trees are essential to conserving biodiversity; 80% of the world’s terrestrial plants and animals are found in the forest. In Indonesia, 1.3 million acres are lost annually, leading to species extinction and disrupting the delicate ecosystem balance. World Resources Institute (WRI) works tirelessly to address this issue through its Emission Measurement, Reduction and Sequestration Initiative (EMISI) program in Indonesia, combatting extreme deforestation resulting from urban expansion, plantations and coastal development. EMISI enables Jakarta residents to offset emissions through donations that fund tree planting in Jakarta and complementary restoration in faraway forests. To date, $371,000 has been raised to plant 175,000 trees by 2024, and it is estimated that 182 hectares of land will be planted and conserved in six priority forest locations in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Java and Bali. The program decreases deforestation while restoring natural habitats by leveraging trees’ natural ability to sequester carbon, increasing wildlife habitat, and encouraging better land use management.
Another organization combatting rapid deforestation is Asociacion Reforesta. In Spain, drovers’ roads, the routes created for walking livestock between pastures, are heavily affected by deforestation, causing soil erosion and habitat fragmentation. Volunteers with the organization have committed to planting 6,000 trees and 24 native shrub species. This effort will reinforce the ecological corridor function and restore the proper natural habitat for organisms native to that area to grow and flourish.
“Rebuilding biodiversity helps protect ecosystems, which in turn, builds community resiliency,” says Caterpillar Foundation president, Asha Varghese. “Together with partners, we’re committed to rebuilding and maintaining healthy ecosystems worldwide – to protect biodiversity – for people and the planet.”
In 2022, the Foundation had nearly 70 active sustainable infrastructure programs, committing over $13 million across 30 countries to restore natural ecosystems to withstand natural disasters and environmental challenges.
Read more about the Caterpillar Foundation in Caterpillar’s 2022 Sustainability Report.