Faith in Service

52 Biodiversity Tips

Biodiversity – the variety of life on Earth – makes our planet habitable and beautiful.

Many of us look to the natural environment for pleasure, inspiration, or recreation. We also depend on it for food, energy, raw materials, air, and water – the elements that make life as we know it possible and drive our economies.

Yet despite its unique value, we often take nature for granted. The pressures on many natural systems are growing, causing them to function less effectively or even taking them to the brink of collapse. Biodiversity loss, as we call it, is an all too common occurrence.

The European Commission Directorate-General Environment has produced 52 tips for biodiversity, which we will be posting weekly.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is all around us and we are part of it.

There are three main elements:

♦ The different types of species which live on Earth – including animals, plants, vegetables, fungi, algae, bacteria and even viruses;

♦ The differences between individuals of the same species – their sizes, shapes and colours;

♦ Different ecosystems – for instance, oceans, forests or coral reefs – and the species which live in them and their interactions.

Scientists have recorded around 1.9 million different living species on Earth, but the real number is certain to be much, much higher. Many are microscopic or live deep underground or in the oceans, others have simply not yet been discovered.

Why is biodiversity important?

The result of 3.8 billion years of evolution, biodiversity is essential to human survival. We rely on nature for many essential resources, including food, building materials, warmth, textiles, or the active ingredients in medicines. In addition, there are other vital functions that nature provides, from the pollination of plants to the filtering of air, water, and soil, to protection against floods.

Life, as we know it on Earth, would be impossible without these essential materials and services. Unfortunately, all too often we forget what nature gives us. In our industrialized societies, biodiversity is taken for granted and seen as something free and eternal. However, the reality is that the pressures we put on nature are increasing and many human activities are posing a major threat to the existence of numerous species.

The list of pressures on biodiversity is long and includes the destruction and fragmentation of habitats; pollution of the air, water, and land; overfishing and overuse of resources, forests, and land; the introduction of non-native species; and the release of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

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Last updated: Tue, 10 Aug 2021 15:24