Biodiversity and ecosystems
Biodiversity, in its simplest terms, is the sum total of plants and animals living on the planet and their mutual interactions, as well as the variety of ecosystems (forests, savannah, moors, mangroves and so on) in which they live. Biodiversity is everywhere: in wild nature, in farmed landscapes, on industrial estates and in the towns and cities we inhabit.
Biodiversity is important, not only for its own intrinsic value but also, crucially, because ecosystems provide us with goods and services – so-called ecosystem services – such as timber, medicines, insect pollination, clean air and scope for all kinds of recreational activity and tourism. Without biodiversity, no economy: it’s as simple as that.
Today, biodiversity is in decline and so, too, the extent to which ecosystems can continue to provide these services, so essential for agriculture, industry and other sectors of the economy. Among the main causes of biodiversity loss are the destruction and fragmentation of plant and animal habitats, climate change, pollution, overexploitation, unsustainable resource use and encroachment by invasive species.
Around 60% of the world’s ecosystems are now degraded, which means the supply of ecosystem services to human society is under increasing threat. All over the world, governments, industries and private citizens are taking action to help curb and reverse the loss of biodiversity.