What is Biodiversity and why is it important?
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life we see around us. This includes all living organisms, the genetic differences among them and the communities and ecosystems in which they occur.
Biodiversity is important for many reasons, some of which are detailed below:
- plants recycle oxygen and filter out harmful particles, thereby purifying the air.
Water Quality - wetland ecosystems play an important role in recycling nutrients and absorbing pollutants.
Pest Control - many pests are controlled biologically; i.e.; by other organisms such as insects, birds and fungi.
Pollination and Crop Production - natural pollination by birds and insects is responsible for over a third of crop production.
Climate Regulation - carbon sinks found in plant tissue and other organic material help to absorb carbon dioxide and thereby slow its release into the atmosphere. This helps to regulate the climate.
Prevention of Natural Disasters
- natural ecosystems can help to alleviate and prevent natural disasters. For example; forests can help to protect against erosion, nutrient loss and landslide by stabilising the soil through their roots.
Food Production - the majority of human’s foods are sourced through nature.
Health - the large majority of medicines in the developed world have biological derivatives, and this represents just a small percentage of the possibilities since only a tiny percentage of species have been investigated for their potential medicinal properties.
Economy - all of the above functions contribute to the world’s economy and therefore without biodiversity, the global economy would collapse. In addition to the above services provided by biodiversity, people’s livelihoods can depend directly on the existence of biodiversity. For example; ecotourism.
Spiritual / Cultural value - our emotional health is tied up with the environment. This is sometimes called the ’Biophilia Effect’ and refers to the idea that nature offers aesthetic appeal, and opportunities for recreation, relaxation and education, and therefore has a significant impact on our health.
Threats to Biodiversity and action to prevent loss of biodiversity
Species are being lost at an increasingly rapid rate. This is mostly due to human development and population growth which puts pressure on land usage and natural resources, and leads to the destruction of habitats and species.
This loss of biodiversity led to a Convention on Biological Diversity which was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. You will sometimes see this referred to as the Rio Convention or the Earth Summit, and the outcome was that 159 governments signed the first treaty to provide a legal framework in which to protect biodiversity. The treaty called for the establishment of national strategies and plans to outline how nations planned to conserve, enhance and protect biodiversity. For more details about the Convention on Biological Diversity please see www.cbd.int
In response to this Convention, the UK government held a consultation with over 300 organisations to help them in the production of "Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan" which was launched in 1994 and outlines how the UK plans to address the issues raised in the Convention on Biological Diversity. For further details on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan please see www.ukbap.org.uk
Arun District Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan
In response to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, Arun District Council published a local plan in 2000. Through this ADC undertakes:Â·
neither to cause nor to contribute to, through action or inaction, the extinction of any native living species in our district
nor to make the populations of common species decline so that they become rare
nor to unduly restrict variation within species
nor to destroy nor cause a net loss of area of any irreplaceable natural habitat.
Arun District Council will also enhance wherever possible:
the populations of native species in the district
the variation within species
the area and quality of natural habitats in the district, particularly those which are internationally important or threatened, characteristic of the local area, have high value to local people, or have diminished over recent decades.
On a wider scale, ADC will contribute to the conservation of biodiversity on the planet by:
conserving and enhancing biodiversity in Arun District
making sure that our actions have no negative effect, and preferably a positive effect on biodiversity outside the district
contributing to sustainable development
contributing to the targets of the Biodiversity Action Plan for Sussex (http://www.biodiversitysussex.org)
contributing to the targets of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Arun Biodiversity Forum
The ADC Biodiversity Action Plan led to the formation of the Biodiversity Forum
which aims to promote the values of biodiversity, to preserve, enhance and develop the environment, to raise awareness of relevant issues, through education, social activity, research and other appropriate means agreed by the Forum.
is open to anyone with an interest in biodiversity and conservation within Arun. The group usually meet three times a year and meetings will often feature talks about various environmental topics. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Forum also produce newsletters with details of their latest meetings and other developments relating to biodiversity conservation. The most recent ones can be downloaded here: