This isn’t just about us – calling for a new perspective on biodiversity

Biological diversity (or biodiversity) refers to the variety of life on Earth. This includes all life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms and invertebrates [1]. Biodiversity differs greatly between regions and is often richest in tropical rainforests (just think of the millions of buzzing insects and colourful flowers). Since the emergence of humans, biodiversity has continuously decreased for various reasons, including habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution and climate change [2]. Why is this a problem? Looking at official documents like the UNEP (United Nation Environment Programme) report from 2012 [3], biodiversity is closely linked with human health and well-being: we depend on nature to provide us with clean air and water, enjoy hiking and birdwatching and have built industries around the materials it provides. And while this is true, we might want to question if we are missing an important point by looking at biodiversity from such a human-centric perspective.

Mainstream information sources such as Wikipedia [4], the UNEP report [3] and The Guardian [5] relay biodiversity from a human-centric perspective. Arguably, this could be due to human nature, showing concern for oneself, and how negative consequences can disrupt our daily activities [6]. Reserves from the Earth are used for food, clothing, modes of travel and basically impact resources we need to survive, both directly and indirectly. Yet we are not the only ones benefiting from biodiversity and we are not the only ones who will feel the negative consequences if it declines. Wildlife rely on natural habitats for food and shelter so impacting one has a direct impact on the other and can lead to a vicious cycle of damage within the food chain. For example, through deforestation, we are reducing hunting ground, which impacts competition within the area and ultimately impacts the food chain of predators [7].

Want to hear the good news? There is no need to decide. By fostering biodiversity, we can improve both our lives and the lives of so many other species. As we are calling for a new perspective on biodiversity, this only adds more reasons to why it is so important – beyond the reasons that concern human well-being. What can you do to help? The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has composed a short list of actions [8]: be good to our climate, don’t buy bad souvenirs made from the skin, fur, bone, shell, beak or hooves of an endangered species, buy “good” wood from a sustainable legal source and buy sustainable seafood. Of course there are many more things you can to do to preserve biodiversity, specifically in your local region. Just do a quick online search and help save our beautiful planet.

By: Unzila Ali and Christina Bremer

[1] Wilcox, B.A., 1984. In situ conservation of genetic resources: determinants of minimum area requirements. National parks, conservation and development: the role of protected areas in sustaining society. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, pp.639-64

[2] Conservation Measures Partnership. (2016). Classification of Conservation Actions and Threats (Version 2.0). [online] Available at: http://cmp-openstandards.org/tools/threats-and-actions-taxonomies/ [Accessed 26 March 2019]

[3] UNEP. (2012). Global Environment Outlook-5: Environment for the future we want. [online] United Nations Environment Programme, p. 133-160, Available at: http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/8021/GEO5_report_full_en.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y [Accessed 26 March 2019]

[4] WIkipedia (2019). Biodiversity. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity [Accessed 26 March 2019]

[5] The Guardian. (2018). What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/12/what-is-biodiversity-and-why-does-it-matter-to-us [Accessed 26 March 2019]

[6] Oksanen, M., 1997. The moral value of biodiversity. Ambio, pp.541-545.

[7] Vieira, I.C.G., Toledo, P.D., Silva, J.D. and Higuchi, H., 2008. Deforestation and threats to the biodiversity of Amazonia. Brazilian Journal of Biology, 68(4), pp.949-956.

[8] WWF. (2019). What you can do. [online] Available at: http://wwf.panda.org/our_work/biodiversity/what_you_can_do/ [Accessed 26 March 2019]

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