International Biodiversity Day

Today is the UN International Day for Biological Diversity.  The goal of the day is to increase awareness and understanding of biodiversity issues.  I haven’t had much of a chance to write today, but I felt it was important to post something, even if it is mostly links!

First, what is biodiversity?  This Natural History Museum page outlines what biodiversity is, why it’s important and what threatens it.  ‘Biodiversity’ refers to the diversity of life, from ecosystems to species to genes.  The term can still be a bit confusing though, so why don’t we just use a simple term like ‘nature’, asks Mike Shanahan in his post Is it time to kill off ‘Biodiversity’?

However you feel about the semantics, biodiversity is important.  Many people see the intrinsic value of biodiversity, but it is also economically essential.  Beautiful, diverse natural habitats provide amenity value and bring in tourist dollars, but we also rely on biodiverse systems for everything from crop pollination and pest control to wastewater treatment and limiting disease spread.

Unfortunately, we’re losing biodiversity at an alarming rate.  The IUCN lists nearly 18,000 species as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered globally.  In the UK, the State of Nature report released today revealed that 60% of animal and plant species surveyed have declined in the last 50 years (full report, BBC feature).

It’s not a happy story, but there are plenty of things we can all do to help, starting with learning more and telling others about the importance of biodiversity and threat it is under.  WWF and many others offer lists with suggestions for ways to help, but it mostly boils down to reducing consumption of goods and energy, buying sustainably produced products, reducing waste, and doing what you can to support healthy habitats, whether that’s in your garden or further afield.

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