ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Friday, September 30, 2022

Biodiversity

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the term used to describe the variety of life found on Earth and all of the natural processes. This includes ecosystem, genetic and cultural diversity, and the connections between these and all species.

 

The different aspects of biodiversity all have a very strong influence on each other. We have only just started to understand the relationships between living things and their environments. It is helpful to think of an ecosystem as a woven carpet; if you pull on a loose thread it might only affect the thread and those closest to it or it might unravel the whole carpet.

 

Biodiversity also helps us in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, the greenhouse gases produced by human activities are building up in the atmosphere and causing climate change. Climate change is a major threat to biodiversity.

 

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the term used to describe the variety of life found on Earth and all of the natural processes. This includes ecosystem, genetic and cultural diversity, and the connections between these and all species.

 

The different aspects of biodiversity all have a very strong influence on each other. We have only just started to understand the relationships between living things and their environments. It is helpful to think of an ecosystem as a woven carpet; if you pull on a loose thread it might only affect the thread and those closest to it or it might unravel the whole carpet.

 

Biodiversity also helps us in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, the greenhouse gases produced by human activities are building up in the atmosphere and causing climate change. Climate change is a major threat to biodiversity.

 

This diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and microorganisms. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified, mostly small creatures such as insects. Scientists reckon that there are actually about 13 million species, though estimates range from three to 100 million.

 

Biodiversity also includes genetic differences within each species - for example, between varieties of crops and breeds of livestock. Chromosomes, genes, and DNA-the building blocks of life-determine the uniqueness of each individual and each species.

 

Yet another aspect of biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems such as those that occur in deserts, forests, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, and agricultural landscapes. In each ecosystem, living creatures, including humans, form a community, interacting with one another and with the air, water, and soil around them.

 

It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a large number of goods and services that sustain our lives.

 

Protecting biodiversity is in our self-interest. Biological resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Nature's products support such diverse industries as agriculture, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, horticulture, construction and waste treatment. The loss of biodiversity threatens our food supplies, opportunities for recreation and tourism, and sources of wood, medicines and energy. It also interferes with essential ecological.