Why we do this: Biodiversity
When you take into consideration all the benefits that nature provides us with you soon discovering that learning more about biodiversity and the steps that we need to take to preserve it is the single most important thing that we can achieve in our lifetime.
Biodiversity is vital for human health, prosperity and livelihoods; it provides us with fresh air and water, filters pollution, regulates our climate and supplies us with food, fuel, energy and raw materials.
It has been shown to make significant contributions to human health and wellbeing, increase our happiness and is instrumental to medicinal advances - a quarter of all modern medicine originates from tropical rainforest plants.
Preserving global biodiversity and ensuring that our ecosystems are healthy is undoubtedly the solution to some of the most pressing issues
society now faces - ending poverty, improving health, providing clean water and mitigating climate change.
A 2014 research paper in Global Environmental Change by Robert Costanza et al valued global ecosystem services at a truly remarkable $125 trillion per annum in 2011 - comparatively, GDP was $75.2 trillion in the same year.
Ecosystem services include the provision of food and water - coral reefs alone are an essential component to the world’s fisheries and support the economic and food requirements of over ½ billion people.
Our planet’s forests and oceans play an essential role in the battle against climate change acting as a giant carbon sink. About 4 out of 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by our activities each year is taken up by these ecosystems. Unfortunately, human activities are directly impacting these ecosystems with ensuing ramifications for the ecology of our entire planet.
Biodiversity can also offer us protection - healthy mangrove ecosystems act as a buffer to break the power of waves during storms and even tsunamis. They protect in-shore areas and without them many beaches and buildings would become far more prone to coastal flooding, erosion and storm damage.
The value of nature:
Today, we are losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate:
We have seen global forest cover (including tropical rainforests) decrease by three million square kilometres in just twenty years – this is an area that is the equivalent to the size of India.
We have helped to cause an estimated annual loss of 6,000,000 hectares of fertile land to desertification.
We have lost 28% of our coral reefs and more than 60% are currently in severe decline. All but the most remote reefs will be impacted in the next 50 years, with some researchers claiming that all reefs could disappear by 2050.
We have impoverished the ocean - 85% of ocean fisheries are classed as fully exploited, over exploited or depleted and face increasing pressures due to the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, deadzones, plastics and pollution.
We are currently between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural rate of extinction and within 300 years we could lose 75% of all of our planet’s animal species.
We have seen the illegal wildlife trade valued at £12 billion per annum. It has become big business and is second only to habitat destruction in overall threats against species survival.
Simply put, we must reverse the current trend of biodiversity loss if we are to continue to benefit from the incredible ecosystem services biodiversity provides us all with.