What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is short for biological diversity. It is the term used to describe the variety of life on earth – the whole range of plants, animals and fungi, the variation among them and the places that they live in. It includes everything from back gardens to marine life to the Amazonian rainforest.

Why is Biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is vital to the lives we all live and provides many of the ‘life support’ functions we take for granted:

• Without it we starve – all our food ultimately derives from biodiversity

• We need it to breath – it is biodiversity that regulates the Earth’s atmosphere and provides us with oxygen

• We need it for health – biodiversity is an important source of medicinal drugs and provides the open spaces where we get exercise and relaxation

• We need it for the economy – biodiversity provides the raw materials on which our economy is based and acts as a draw for tourists and inward investment; there is also increasing evidence that an attractive natural environment increases house prices in an area.

• We need it for nearly everything that matters – it gives inspiration and aesthetic pleasure, is essential for pollination, pest-control, control of flood water, pollution control and protection against natural hazards, brewing of alcohol, agriculture, clean water… the list goes on.

Importantly, many species are dependent on each other, so if one suffers, so do many others.