means the diversity of life on this planet: From animals, plants and fungi all the way down to microorganisms and their ecosystems. Biodiversity also refers to genetic diversity, which shows that every living being is a unique part of this great jigsaw puzzle of life.
“HUMANITY STANDS AT A DEFINING MOMENT OF ITS HISTORY.”
Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Animals and plants need habitats which provide the adequate living conditions. These habitats are being reduced or destroyed today. Some of the causes are excessive land consumption for the construction of roads and buildings, monocultures, high nutrient input due to agriculture and contamination by industry and traffic.
Humanity is destroying the natural heritage that developed in millions of years. Instead of cooperating with nature, we are exploiting it. As a result more and more plants and animals are leaving this planet forever.
EUROPE IS NO EXCEPTION
Already up to a quarter of mammals, birds or butterflies are extinct in some European countries. Between 30 and 50 percent of Europe’s mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and freshwater fish are threatened with extinction. Worldwide, human activities lead to extinction rates by a factor of 100 to1000 times higher than the natural extinction rate!
HUMANS NEED BIODIVERSITY
Humankind depends completely on the services that are provided by nature, ranging from fish, crops and cattle for food, to medicines, building materials, clothes, fuel, air and water purification, crop pollination, to name only a few.
The economic value of biodiversity is huge. About 40% of the world economy is based on biological products or processes. Currently, a global study “The economics of ecosystems & biodiversity” is being carried out. Whereas the final report is only expected in autumn 2010, the interim report already showed clearly one alarming fact: Impoverishment in biodiversity leads to economic impoverishment. Preliminary calculations indicate the cost of forest loss alone dwarfs the cost of the current banking crisis.
OUR BIODIVERSITY IS A PRICELESS TREASURE
Thus, protecting the biodiversity must be a crucial attribute of any global, national and local economy that shall enable the wealth of our and future generations. If it is not, the economic crisis caused by continuous declining biodiversity will eclipse by far what we are experiencing now in the economic and financial crisis.
Also our emotional and mental well-being and health depend on a high diversity of plants, animals and ecosystems in our surroundings. We need the abundance of forms, colors, smells, sounds and tastes of nature. We need room for recreational promenades. We need cool parks in hot summer cities. We need to hear the birds singing. Our children need space to play, to explore the beauties, wonders and challenges of life.
In times when large parts of the population spend most of their lives in towns and cities, rarely ever leaving them, the only chance to supply these needs to the public is with a high biodiversity in urban areas. Declining biodiversity there means rising monotony and stress and less quality of life. Its ongoing destruction erodes the ecological, cultural and economic ground we, and future generations, all live and nourish upon.
IT’S IN OUR HANDS
If we all acknowledge the need to preserve the richness of this planet and act accordingly we will manage to stop the loss of biodiversity.