The term Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, refers to the diversity of life forms, species, genetic variation, and ecosystems.  Biodiversity is a crucial component of the environment within which human society exists.  Economically disadvantaged communities in developing nations, particularly those inhabiting areas of low agricultural productivity, are heavily dependent upon the genetic diversity of the environment. 

Biodiversity loss

Anthropogenic pressures caused by human population growth, overexploitation of natural resources, and environmental degradation have resulted in a decline in global biodiversity.  Populations of many species are dwindling, pushing many organisms close to extinction, and ecosystems are being destroyed, degraded and fragmented, and are disappearing as a result.
Some of the main drivers of biodiversity loss include:
  • Human population growth has resulted in increased demand for space for habitation and food production.
  • Urban sprawl and intensive agriculture and forestry have encroached upon natural habitats.
  • Extension of infrastructure has lead to the fragmentation of natural landscapes and habitats, disrupting natural processes and negatively impacting upon ecosystem properties.
  • Overexploitation of natural resources means that the human population has begun to consume more than the planet’s ecosystems are able to provide.
  • Increased incidences of pollution have negatively affected the health of flora and fauna, as well as human health.
  • Global climate change may lead to increased extinction rates as species are unable to adapt or migrate in response to changing temperatures.
  • Invasive alien species are increasingly entering ecosystem where they outcompete endemic species causing the extirpation of some organisms, resulting in changes to ecosystem properties, function and processes.


Biodiversity conservation

Conservation refers to sustainably managing the ways in which humans utilise nature so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to current generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations.  Conservation of biodiversity is the management of human interactions with genes, species, and ecosystems and encompasses elements of saving, studying, and using biodiversity.  Conservation is one of the key elements of ensuring sustainable development.