|What biodiversity is about
Biodiversity is the numbers and diversity of plant and animal life together with genetic diversity and assemblages of organisms. However, biodiversity is much more than numbers of plants and animals, it is what underpins human life and well-being.
The concept of biodiversity is so broad that it reflects the linkages between genes, species and ecosystems. Therefore, whether wildlife products or services from ecosystems are required or whether the aim is merely to protect ecosystems for posterity, these linkages must be reflected in the way humans manage the world.
The significance of biodiversity is seen particularly well at species level. Species provide the food we eat, the plants from which much of the world’s medicine comes, the clothes we wear, the trees that re-oxygenate the air we breath and many more benefits.
Genes provide the variations that make the system strong. For thousands of years man has recognized the importance of genetics in adapting plants to grow in such a way as to increase their yield and of breeding domestic animals to encourage the development of healthy animals with the most desirable characteristics for their purpose. Sound breeding policies increase the value of production significantly.
Ecosystems provide the habitats in which species can thrive. Coastal wetlands and the plants that live there, form spawning grounds for fish and crustaceans. Forest ecosystems help to regulate water runoff into rivers and to prevent flooding. The Amazon rainforest influences global climate while the presence or absence of vegetation can influence climate locally. The list is almost endless.