Home » Events » COVID-19: A Wake Up Call from Nature-the foundation of Life!

COVID-19: A Wake Up Call from Nature-the foundation of Life!

Join me, virtually, for a 10-hour vigil, from the centre of Tullamore, County Offaly, to mark International Day For Biological Diversity, on Friday 22nd May, 2020.

22nd May at 8:00 am to 31st December 2020 at 6:00 pm

Join me, virtually, for a 10-hour vigil, from the centre of Tullamore, County Offaly, to mark International Day For Biological Diversity, on Friday 22nd May, 2020. 

Where: O’Connor Square, Tullamore, Co Offaly, Rep of Ireland

Why: Biodiversity is water. Biodiversity is soil. Biodiversity is food. Biodiversity is pollinators. Biodiversity is medicine. Biodiversity is health. Biodiversity is clothes. Biodiversity is shelter. Biodiversity is fuel. Biodiversity is plants and animals. But unfortunately we don’t always see biodiversity in those terms. The world’s biological diversity is under the most severe threat ever recorded. The key message of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), who published the global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in 2019, tells us of the ‘critical need to integrate biodiversity considerations in all decision-making in any sector or challenge, whether its water, agriculture, infrastructure or business.’

Why should this matter: Biodiversity is the foundation of life on this planet. Because of Ireland’s very low forest cover - only 14% of our land is covered in trees, we are hugely reliant on imported timber from all over the world - boreal, temperate and tropical. We have the largest per-capita usage of tropical timber in the European Union (EU). More than three people were murdered each week in 2018, with countless more criminalised, for defending their land and our environment. 

Let's Stand with Environmental Defenders

The use of tropical timber in Ireland is very evident in practically every town, village and city across the country. For example, shop and pub fronts, street furniture in the form of tree planters and seating and in windows/doors/external cladding on buildings as well as construction site hoardings. We use considerable amounts of iroko from West Africa. All across Ireland Local Authorities, architects, engineers, high street businesses, joineries and the construction industry continue to favour imported West African iroko (Chlorophora Excelsa) (also known as: Odum, Mvule, Kambala, Bang, Moreira, Tule and Intule) in products and projects that could easily be serviced by a locally-grown Irish hardwood/softwood. The wood ‘Iroko’ is often called “African Teak”, although it has no relationship to the teak family.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the result of forest losses leading to closer contacts between wildlife and human settlements.

We are also very dependant on precious woods ('tonewoods') like Rosewood, Pernambuco, Satinwood, African blackwood and Ebony for our beautiful musical instruments. Illegal logging, over-exploitation of timber species and land-use change, is driving forest destruction, social unrest and murder for land-rights and forest defenders. Intact forests are central to the successful achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the fight against global warming. The current coronavirus pandemic is linked to ecosystem destruction.

 “We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts.When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.”

David Quammen, author of Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic

The theme of the 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) is "Our solutions are in nature". To help prevent further outbreaks of zoonotic viruses like COVID-19, the illegal wildlife trade and the destruction of habitats must stop. We cannot go back to business as usual. And we will need to rebuild by working with nature, not against it.

COVID-19 updates from the United Nations Environment Programme 


“Retreating on climate action in the face of the pandemic is not an option given that the social and economic devastation caused by climate disruption will be exponentially greater than the COVID-19 crisis.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterras.



We must get back to basics. The present COVID-19 pandemic that is having such unprecedented impacts on our daily lives is directly related to climate change, declining biological diversity and critical habitat destruction. We are completely and utterly dependant on healthy ecosystems for our economic, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental survival. 

How you can participate:

You can do so from the comfort of your home or if you wish you can go public by identifying an item in your locality that is made from tropical timber and raising awareness about it. Or you can highlight a particular invasive species that is having a particularily negative impact on some local flora or fauna.

As we are called to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our health, water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, just to name a few. This year’s slogan “Our solutions are in nature” emphasises hope, solidarity and the importance of working together at all levels to build a future of life in harmony with nature.

2020 is a year of reflection, opportunity and solutions. It is expected, from each of us, that we will “Build Back Better” by using this time to increase the resilience of nations and communities as we recover from this pandemic. 2020 is the year when, more than ever, the world can signal a strong will for a global framework that will “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss for the benefit of humans and all life on Earth.


‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…’ 

Source: A Tale of Two Cities novel by Charles Dickens, published in 1859

Just like Charles Dickens, we live in times of great uncertainty. The devastating impacts of coronavirus, homelessness, conflict, injustice and poverty surrounds us.

Even the very planet we inhabit seems to threaten our survival.

Our challenges are serious, but our history is full of inspiring moments when we have set our differences aside and worked for something bigger than each of us.

The International Day for Biological Diversity 2020 can be one of those moments. Why? Because we must re-learn how our survival as a species is intertwined with our relationship with nature.

If we take action now, we can build a better world for every-body and leave a much brighter future for our children.

With your help, we can be the first generation to defeat extreme poverty, the most determined generation to tackle injustices, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change and declining biological diversity.

Together we can send a strong message to our government and our corporations that NOW is the time to act responsibly and build a world that we will all be proud to live in.

Join me. This is the time.

This is our ‘spring of hope’. This is my plan.

Your Mission

Stir up everyone, everywhere
We will work to create an unstoppable force linked to the Global Goals. We will identify risks to ensure no one is left behind. This requires each of us to take action—individually and collectively, locally and globally.

Insist on urgency and ambition
We must be the generation to end extreme poverty, stop ecosystem
destruction, prevent ecocide, win the race against climate change and conquer injustice and gender inequality. We will hold leaders to account and point to what is possible when action delivers results.

Turn ideas into solutions
We will shine a light on solutions that expand access and demonstrate the possibilities of ideas. We will drive sustainable innovation, financial investments and technology—while making space in our communities and cities for young people to lead.

  Support the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
It’s crunch time. Progress has been made but nowhere near enough to achieve the Global Goals. We need everyone to come together and make the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 a decade of action for people and for planet and a truely Just Transition.

  Act on the science
Just as our Government have acted swiftly on the medical science of this current strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, we will insist that our political and corporate leaders listen to and act upon the science of the global assessment report on ‘BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES’ (IPBES Report) launched in May 2019. (Source: Framing Our Common Future – putting the nexus in a climate-centred Just Transition post COVID-19 – a publication by ©2020 Just Forests)

COVID-19: A Wake Up Call – our spring of hope or winter of despair! By Tom Roche

You can download this article or read it on-line from this link


Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.
Ringfort Workshop, Rathcobican, Rhode, Offaly, Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)86 8049389  |  E-mail: info@tomroche.ie
Company Registration Number: 612423 This website is an education awareness initiative of Just Forests Ltd Copyright © 2024 Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.