WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY? AND PRINCIPAL THREATS OF ITS CONSERVATION
Actualizado: 17 sept 2019
It is important to know the meaning of Biodiversity, the Convention Biological Diversity (CBD) defined it as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystem and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystem”. (CBD, 1992, Article 2). Of this meaning arises the importance of the conservation of the biodiversity, because it include all forms of live in the Earth, that are essential for the evolution of the planet and for maintaining life sustaining system of the biosphere.
A part from this, Biodiversity has fundamental functions to human well-being in the most important aspects of life: food, medicine, natural resources, energy, etc. Its principal functions are:
-Maintaining balance of the ecosystem: Recycling and storage of nutrients, combating pollution, and stabilizing climate, protecting water resources, etc.
-Provision of biological resources: Provision of medicines and pharmaceuticals, food for the human population and animals, timber, breeding stock and diversity of species and ecosystems.
-Social benefits: Recreation and tourism, cultural value, education and research.
The role of biodiversity in areas such as science, economy, culture, industry… will help make clear the importance of biodiversity in human life:
-Biodiversity provides for variety of foods for the planet.
-Biodiversity also plays an important role in drug discovery and medicinal resources.
-Biological sources provide many industrial materials. These include fiber, oil, rubber and water.
-Biodiversity enhances recreational and fresh air activities.
The previous points are some of the reasons that demonstrate the importance of biodiversity conservation for human life, but, which are the causes that have damaged biodiversity?. Numerous studies and researches realized around the world by conservationists and experts conclude that the main causes of the biodiversity loss could be attributed to human influence over the ecosystem and habitats. The principal threats are following five: (Global Diversity Outlook 3, CBD,2010):
-Habitat loss and degradation: Human actions are changing the ecosystem overexploitation resources for economic activities as agriculture, oil and gas exploration, commercial development, etc. These changes affect 86% of all threatened bird, 86% of all threatened mammals assessed and 88% of all threatened amphibians. (UICN, 2010)
-Introduction of Invasive Alien Species: they stablish and spread outside their natural past or present distribution. Invasive Alien Species occur in all taxonomic groups, including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms, and can affect all types of ecosystems. The introduction of these species outside of their place of origin is produced intentionally by illegal or legal trade and an unintentionally through ship, containers, cars, etc. The more invasive species are cats, rats, green crabs, zebra mussels, snake, insects, some of them are in the list of “100 World‘s Worst Invasive Alien Species” (www.issg.org).
-Over-exploitation of natural resources: This is one of the most harmful activities for the biodiversity loss, because humans have not been aware of the importance of the resources for life in the planet, and now, it could be too late. The activities that cause this over-exploitation are hunting, pets, extraction of plant to produce medicines, massive fishing for food, construction of dams, wood cutting, mining, etc.
-Pollution and diseases: Pollution occurs in different forms, air, water, soil, radioactive, noise, heat and light. The most dangerous forms are air, water and soil pollution, and they are the cause of such of the diseases as pneumonia, hepatitis, asthma, yellow fever, dengue, etc. Nowadays a example of grave situation causes of the air pollution is China where the particle rate of PM 2.5 reached to 620/m3, when the World Health Organization say that more of 25 is dangerous for the health of the human being.
-Climate change: it has identified that global mean temperatures are rising to 2 or 3oC above preindustrial levels. This warming has been linked to a decline in the population numbers of some species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments and it is thought that 20-30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at an increased risk of extinction.