The year 2010 has been designated the ‘International Year of Biodiversity’. In 2002 at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development, heads of state and nations agreed a commitment to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity at all levels by 2010. In turn this would help to reduce poverty and benefit all life on Earth.
Biodiversity encompasses the variety of ecosystems and life on Earth, including micro-organisms, fungi, plants and animals as well as the genetic diversity within individual species. Humans (Homo sapiens) are part of biodiversity, and as such we have a responsibility to care for the millions of other species on our planet.
Despite efforts to conserve biodiversity, the loss of species continues because of human activities, which do not consider ways to combat the loss, are destroying habitats. Habitat destruction has a devastating effect on the populations of many species. As ancient woodland or tropical forest make way for farming or industrial development, diverse communities of species are wiped out. Those species that can may move elsewhere, but those that can’t are lost.
Species cannot be conserved in isolation as each species is part of a complex environment and a component of a food web. If one part of the food web is lost then this will have an adverse effect on many others.
How you can help
We all share a responsibility for conserving biodiversity for our benefit and for our succeeding generations. Local strategies can be simple and not too costly. Conservation volunteers can play a crucial role as they help to replant, protect and encourage native species.