Posted by: Clean Up the World | 22/07/2010

The power to protect or destroy

What does the Mustela lutreola, Pristis zijsron and Cryosophila williamsii all have in common? Aside from strange names, these are all species on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

A century ago, the Mustela lutreola or European Mink could be found throughout the European continent. Now, its population is greatly reduced and the mink exists mainly in Eastern Europe. Habitat loss and over-hunting are likely to have contributed to the decline.

The Pristis zijsron or Narrowsnout Sawfish is a large and unusual ray found in the northern Indian Ocean around Southeast Asia and Australia, and in the western Pacific Ocean. Due to its large size and the toothed saw, it easily becomes entangled in fishing nets and, as a result, this species has declined severely.

And the Cryosophila williamsii or Root-spine Palm, which was once found in rainforests of the Lago Yojoa watershed, is now close to extinct in the wild and is restricted to a small area of west-central Honduras. Deforestation due to increasing agriculture, settlement and logging was the cause.

These three sad stories all have a common element that has led to these species becoming close to extinction. That common element is us. People. We are part of nature’s rich diversity and we have the power to protect or destroy it. It’s time for us to act to prevent any more nature loss.


Clean Up the World Weekend on 17 – 19 September advocates the power to protect. It’s a weekend for celebrating participants year-round environmental achievements or organising a local activity.

This year, in support of the United Nation’s 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, we are encouraging participants to focus on protecting biodiversity in their community – that’s protecting the variety and wonder of plant and animal life.

From cleaning up local parks to implementing water saving programmes, tree planting to awareness raising events, each Clean Up the World activity protects, restores and/or promotes nature. It’s the power to protect on a global scale.

Hundreds of members, mobilising over 35 million volunteers from 120 countries, will participate in this year’s Clean Up the World Weekend. Each year, I am newly inspired by the lengths people are willing to go to protect the environment for our future generations.

The Union for Sustainable Development EcoVision in Georgia for example ran a biodiversity picnic earlier in the year, with some 2,000 participants, to educate on biodiversity issues in the country, and the world. On Clean Up the World Weekend they’ll continue their education campaign and run clean up and recycling initiatives.

Davao Reef Divers Club focuses on the preservation of the underwater environment in the Philippines and organises clean up dives each Clean Up the World Weekend.

What will you do to help protect plant and animal life in your community?

By registering a Clean Up the World Weekend activity you’ll join us in supporting the International Year of Biodiversity.

The activity you choose is up to you. Be it restoring a local waterway or a regeneration project, we believe you know best what needs to be done locally. And whatever you decide, we’ll support you by providing information and resources to help plan, promote and gain support for your activity.

The more registrations, the more noise we make, the more we will galvanize others to take action.

And the more people that take action, the greater chance our children and our children’s children have of marvelling at the European Mink, the Narrowsnout Sawfish, and the Root-spine Palm. all part of the amazing diversity of life on our planet.
We have the power to protect and act. Register and join us.
Ian Kiernan AO


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