Biodiversity (or biological diversity) describes all life on Earth. It refers to the wide variety of living organisms: animals, plants, fungi and bacteria (and their genes) along with their habitats and ecosystems.
Biodiversity is critical for the functioning of ecosystems which provide us with products and services without which we couldn’t live. It provides us with oxygen, soil, water, food, medicines (more than 70,000 plant species are used in traditional and modern medicine), shelter, stable climate and recreation. The value of global ecosystem services supplied by biodiversity is estimated at $16-$64 trillion.
Threats to biodiversity are numerous and human activity is responsible for most of them.
- Habitat loss and degradation affects 86% of all threatened birds, 86% of the threatened mammals assessed and 88% of the threatened amphibians.
- Introductions of Invasive Alien Species that establish and spread outside their normal distribution.
- Over-exploitation of natural resources. Resource extraction, hunting, and fishing for food, pets, and medicine.
- Pollution and diseases. For example, excessive fertilizer use leads to excessive levels of nutrients in soil and water.
- Human-induced climate change. For example, climate change is altering migratory species patterns, and increasing coral bleaching.