7J – Impacts of biodiversity

Supporting article J: “In order to highlight the importance of biodiversity, 2010 has been selected as the International Year of Biodiversity in an attempt to educate people on biodiversity and how biodiversity supports everyday life.”


How Biodiversity Impacts on life

Biodiversity and Ecosystems Destruction Impacts

The biodiversity of both animal and plant species are core to the survival of life; yet many of the world’s biodiversity is already destroyed or facing extinction.
The Earth is made up of ecosystems and ecological features which are supported by biodiversity; yet many people do not understand the meaning of biodiversity or what the impact of its loss would mean. In order to highlight the importance of biodiversity, 2010 has been selected as the International Year of Biodiversity in an attempt to educate people on biodiversity and how biodiversity supports everyday life.

The Definition of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is also known as biological diversity; broadly speaking, biodiversity describes the huge variety of species (both plant and animal) found on Earth and the natural way in which ecosystems and communities are formed. Over time, humans have had a major impact on Earth’s biodiversity so it is important to understand biodiversity in order not to destroy these fragile processes. Biodiversity includes:
• different ecosystems such as mountains, lakes, deserts, oceans, wetlands and forests
• genetic differences within the same species
• approximately 1.75 million identified species, with an estimate of between 3 and 10 million actual species.

How Biodiversity Impacts Life on Earth
Biodiversity affects everyday life on Earth; examples of biodiversity include:
• approximately 30 percent of medicines are developed from plants or animals
• soil enrichment through the decomposition of dead animals and plants and waste breakdown by organisms such as insects and worms
• green plant photosynthesis
• approximately 80 plant species are accredited with the source of over 90 per cent of the world’s food sources.

The Importance of Ecosystems
Ecosystems support a rich diversity of species which interact with their surrounding environments to produce a number of benefits; these include:
• air and water purification
• provision of many of man’s necessities such as shelter, food, fuel and building materials
• stabilization of the Earth’s climate
• detoxification of waste products
• plant pollination
• weather and environmental control through floods and fire
• control of erosion
• control of disease
• source of many medicines
• nutrient recycling.

Biodiversity Projects
There are a number of biodiversity projects throughout the world which have been set up to preserve and protect natural ecosystems and environments which are threatened by human behavior. National parks are one example of how ecosystems are protected; other plant-related projects include:
• Biodiversity Conservation for Community Development, Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania
• Conservation of Indigenous Root and Tube Varieties, Sri Lanka Community Development Center
• Native Cotton Conservation, Association of Women Artisans of Arbolsol and Huaca de Barro from the Morrope District, Peru
• Restoration of the Hydrological Regime, El Nya Swamp, Belarus
• Wetland Conservation for Sustainable Livelihoods, Phu My Lepironia,Vietnam.

The Impact of the Loss of Biodiversity
Biodiversity and ecosystems need to be protected in order to preserve the quality of life on Earth; many plants and animals have already became extinct through human actions and it is estimated that if trends do not change 34,000 plant species will become extinct. Shrinking biodiversity means ecosystems are unable to operate effectively; with the loss of effective ecosystems, medicine, food, shelter and other valuable resources are lost.

Action for Biodiversity
Biodiversity has already been affected by climate change, pollution, land exploitation and loss of natural habitat through human actions; the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 aims to bring these problems to the world’s attention and instigate preventative actions by governments and private organizations to protect the world for future generations..

Further information can be obtained at the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity web site.