By: Sarah Zitin

What is Biodiversity?

“The term biodiversity (from “biological diversity”) refers to the variety of life on Earth, from genes to ecosystems, and encompasses the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life. Biological diversity refers to the global variety of species and ecosystems and the ecological processes of which they are part, covering three components: genetic, species and ecosystem diversity.”

*Courtesy of Google

Biodiversity is essential for human health and well-being, economic prosperity, food safety and security, and other areas critical to all humans and all human societies. In short, biodiversity is essential to the continuation of all life on Earth! Organisms, ecosystems and ecological processes supply us with oxygen and clean water, they help recycle carbon and nutrients, they enable plants to grow, they keep pests and diseases in check, and they help protect against flooding and other environmental disasters.

Biodiversity Plays a Major Role in Maintaining the Balance of the Earth.

Everything depends upon the biological diversity of different plants and animals. Biodiversity supports the health of the planet and has a direct impact on all our lives. Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease, and where fresh water may eventually no longer be available.

Here are 10 reasons Why Biodiversity Matters to Jobs, Health and the Economy:

  1. Biodiversity protects us.
  2. Biodiversity provides livelihoods.
  3. Biodiversity ensures health and food security.
  4. Biodiversity helps fight disease.
  5. Biodiversity benefits business.
  6. Biodiversity provides livelihoods.
  7. Moral reasons – the continuance of all life.
  8. Aesthetic reasons – all of nature everywhere.
  9. Providing important natural functions – restores balance to the Earth.
  10. Biodiversity provides actual and potential material and economic benefits to people.

Why is Biodiversity Important to Animals?

Biodiversity is important to animals because it boosts ecosystem productivity, where every species plays a part, no matter how small. This includes animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, and all living things. Greater biodiversity in ecosystems, species, and individuals leads to greater stability and balance for the Earth. For example, species with high genetic diversity and many populations that are adapted to a wide variety of conditions are more likely to be able to weather disturbances, disease, and climate change.

Biodiversity is what underlies many important ecological goods and services that provide benefits to humans, and it helps scientists understand how life functions and the role of each species in sustaining ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems will be more resilient to climate change and so more able to maintain the supply of ecosystem services on which our prosperity and wellbeing depend.

Earth Day

Why Healthy Ecosystems are Mandatory

Healthy ecosystems must lie at the center of any adaptation policy and can help mitigate climate change impacts, by absorbing excess flood water or buffering us against coastal erosion or extreme weather events. Forests, wetlands and other habitats are major stores of carbon. Protecting them can also help us limit atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Consequently, conventional pressures that cause the fragmentation, degradation, overexploitation and pollution of ecosystems must be reduced (‘ecosystem climate-proofing’). This is why we have a strategy to reconnect natural areas using green infrastructure to restore the health of ecosystems and allow species to thrive across their entire natural habitat. The underlying principle of green infrastructure is that the same area of land can frequently offer multiple benefits if its ecosystems are healthy. Biodiversity climate change adaptation tools, such as flyways, buffer zones, corridors and stepping stones, enhance the coherence and interconnectivity in Europe.

What Happens When Biodiversity is Lost?

Biodiversity is declining faster than it has at any other time in human history. People represent just 0.01 per cent of all living creatures, but have still caused the loss of 83 percent of all wild mammals and half of plants in just the last 100 years. How we grow food, produce energy, dispose of waste and consume resources is destroying nature’s delicate balance that all species — including ours — depend on for survival. Plus, scientists agree that climate change is happening much too fast for species to adapt and survive.

How Can We Preserve Biodiversity?

Helping people to understand what biodiversity loss means for them, and particularly for the health of their children, can be a very effective incentive for the positive behavioral change required to ensure more sustainable lifestyles and choices in energy, food and water consumption, which will in turn ease threats to biodiversity.

In order to provide more evidence on the links with biodiversity and health we must develop tools and methodologies to support the intersection of biodiversity and human health; study more closely environmentally-sensitive diseases in order to support more effective preventive public health strategies; and develop qualitative and quantitative research to explore the root causes of disease emergence and address how anthropogenic drivers of changes in biodiversity affect the transmission of human disease.

In Conclusion

Habitat protection and restoration are highly beneficial public goods for which government investment is more than justified. According to the OECD, restoring 46 per cent of the world’s degraded forests could provide up to US$30 in benefits for every dollar spent, boosting local employment and increasing community awareness of biodiversity’s importance.

Green New Deals or stimulus packages provide an opportunity to acknowledge the close connections between people, nature and climate, and translate it into action to reduce nature-related risks. This would lead to increasing protected areas of the planet, restoration of natural habitats, closure of illegal wildlife markets, changing consumption patterns to reduce the strain on nature, and setting targets to halve the impact of everything that the world produces and consumes. In turn, this would help to directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase conservation of carbon sinks which also addresses climate change. In this best case scenario, everyone wins!