The Thursday Lecture
Thursday October 3, 2019 4:00pm
Presenter:Miguel Rio
Sala Marbella in the Hapimag Resort, Camilo Jose Cela, Marbella

Homes for Biodiversity


The region of Malaga and Cadiz is a hugely important area with its current magnificent biodiversity. The Iberian Peninsula is visited annually by about seven hundred million birds during their migration from North Europe to Africa. Most of them cross through the straights of Gibraltar and through Cadiz and Malaga. Many of them remain in the peninsula during the winter and don’t reach Africa. In the spring they meet here, they feed, reproduce and raise their offspring until they reach maturity.


However, the natural habitats for these birds have been diminishing in their capacity to sustain wildlife due to several factors including climate change, season irregularities, drought, increased use of pesticides, single crops methods and loss of soil fertility. For example, European community studies indicate that, in the last ten years, Europe has lost two thirds of its insect population – a clear food source for birds that is becoming scarce,


This has an enormous impact on general biodiversity and on the bird population in particular.


At the same time, new opportunities have come up to help. Thousands of rural homes have been built all along the countryside, mostly in Malaga and Cadiz. These homes have been acquired by Spaniards and Expats who love ‘nature’ and have a developed sensitivity to the environment. The VIBIO project is directed particularly to these people.


The presenter will suggest what can be done at home to help migrant birds and flora and fauna in general. He will introduce the role VIBIO as a key player in the biodiversity arena, also covering the new movement of Fridays For Future and its crucial importance for this generation.


VIBIO’s purpose is to provide support to rural homes and farms (as well as urban homes) to encourage biodiversity in general through proactive actions. For example, VIBIO gives support to owners so that they can plant gardens to support biodiversity in their homes. VIBIO provides workshops to help identify and provide plants, nests, feeders, ponds and other tools that sustain different species.


With expert advice and workshops, rural owners can become agents for conservation in their own homes. They can attract birds, butterflies and other beneficial insects to their properties, sustaining the food chain as well as encouraging pollinators that benefit agricultural production. Use of native plants is promoted, since the exotic ones don’t share the evolutionary history and adaptation as the native fauna and thus do not provide appropriate sustenance.


To summarise, biodiversity is under threat.  VIBIO facilitates workshops in their Nature Centres to all those who wish to collaborate and participate. Participants are able to learn everything needed to protect, harbour and support wildlife in general: birds, insects, amphibians, mammals, et cetera and thus become real-life naturalists and conservationists. A network of micro-habitats for wildlife will be created through homes and farms and thus losses in terms of natural environment can be mitigated and biodiversity enhanced. The result is that birds will find supportive refuge on their routes through these microhabitat networks.


Yes, humans can be positive, beneficial and creative agents in supporting nature.


Miguel Rio:  Miguel studied in Spain as well as at the University of San Jose, California and the Sorbonne in Paris.  He worked as Director of the Institute for Environmental Education at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan.  He has been an activist on several conservation issues and is currently President of ViBio-Viviendas para la Biodiversidad (Homes for Biodiversity).


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