A3.6 Biodiversity


The following information is included here to highlight that man (and pollution) has an effect on Biodiversity. The main section within this course in Biodiveristy is included within section A1.3 Biodiversity.


The Global Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit, describes biodiversity as the “variability among all living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”

In short, the term biodiversity is an amalgamation of the words ‘Biological’ and ‘Diversity’.

The Biodiversity of the earth comes from the natural ecosystems present. Across the globe we have oceans, rivers, lakes, forests, rainforests, deserts, tundra, savannah, salt marshes and pasture. Biodiversity includes all of the species of organisms that live within them.

Year on year the number of species endangered and habitats destroyed by human activities is growing. We over-fish, intensively farm, clear forests, introduce invasive species and pollute. This results in the loss of vital resources. We use natural resources for fuel, building materials, food and water. Industry relies on these resources and therefore must take steps to reduce its impact on biodiversity.

There is also the aesthetic element of enjoying beautiful landscapes, whether it is the Grand Canyon or a 1000 year old Oak Tree. This brings with it a large tourism industry, which forms a major part of the economy in many areas.

Other natural features have benefits we did not appear to appreciate until it was too late. Hedgerows have been cleared in the UK to make way for farming companies to create enormous fields to allow the use of mechanised farming methods. Yet hedgerows support a variety of wildlife that has disappeared with them. That is not to mention the natural defence that hedgerows contribute to in terms of containing flood water or drifting snow.

Here are a few statistics, relating to biodiversity issues: 

  • The House Sparrow has declined by 50% since the 1970’s (70% in London).
  • England has globally important populations of breeding seabirds and wintering waders and wildfowl, and 18% of the world’s heathland.
  • England has more chalk rivers than any other country in Europe and over half the European resource of chalk coasts.
  • Nearly 20% of Europe’s Atlantic and North Sea estuaries are in England.

 Source: Natural England ©; www.naturalengland.org.uk