PROTECTING THE NATURAL WORLD
Biodiversity is the variety and differences of living organisms in an area including marine, terrestrial and other aquatic ecosystems, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
It provides the world with a wealth of knowledge and food, whilst also helping to eradicate poverty.
The richer the biodiversity the quicker the earth can recover from disasters and feed a growing population.
Biodiversity is important to the world in a number of ways. In many ways, biodiversity can be seen as the 'Fabric of the Planet', a complex machine that ensures that life continues. The WWF states that all living organisms interact to form complex and interconnected ecosystems, which in turn supplies a variety of ecosystem services upon which all life depends. It also provides many other benefits for mankind, plants and animals, as outlined below.
- Plants and trees provide habitats for animals, birds, marine life, fungi, other plants and micro-organisms.
- Many organisms are important in keeping soils healthy and fertile. Earthworms’ provide nitrogen and aerate soil, whilst micro-organisms recycle organic matter.
- Vegetation provides the world with air to breathe by converting CO2 to Oxygen. Hugely vegetated areas also act as ‘Sinks’, absorbing large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, therefore helping to prevent climate change.
- Pollination by bees, insects and birds help to enhance biodiversity and can introduce new species to certain areas. They are crucial in the fertilisation of food producing plants.
- Complex food webs allow for natural population control and for the transfer of energy.
- Vegetation on earth also plays a part in the biodiversity cycle, which ensures fresh drinking water. Some vegetation also provides resistance against flooding and tropical storms by acting as a buffer or a stabiliser of the land.
“At least 40 per cent of the world’s economy and 80 per cent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change.”
Convention on Biodiversity, WWF
Image of a food web
Economic and Cultural Importance
- Biodiversity is hugely important in that it supplies the world with a source of food, fuel and building material. Both humans and animals utilise plants and other animals in order to survive. The world’s oceans for example provide billions of people around the world with a source of protein.
- A variety of plants on the planet are used to create other products such as clothes and medicines, which are all important to human society.
- As well as all the things that the world’s ecosystems’ provide us with, there are also a number of indirect benefits. Biodiversity helps the economies of many communities through tourism. The beauty, array of fauna and flora and uniqueness all make some areas tourism hot spots.
- Rich biodiversity has also enabled scientists to develop some species to become more resistant to climate change. For example, the creation of drought resistant crops.