Biological diversity or Biodiversity – the variety of life on our planet - is truly amazing. From dazzling rainbow-colored corals to majestic lions roaming the savannah. Magnificent mountain gorillas grooming their young in forests shrouded in mist and hanging moss. Eagles soaring in the blue skies above a golden cornfield, white Bengal tigers surveying their domain. The sight of a butterfly sipping nectar from a flower is a constant reminder of the crucial and beautiful relationship between flora and fauna. A rotting tree-trunk in the forest, hosting an extended family of organisms from microbes to mammals. Worms and microbes feeding on waste and turning it to nutrients for crops and trees and flowers. Exotic orchids blooming near tree trunks and branches, spiders weaving their finest silks … all contributing to the worldwide web of life in perfect unison.
Biodiversity includes every species and all the genetic differences within each species. It encompasses the variety of ecosystems: forests, drylands, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, agricultural lands and islands where living creatures, including humans, animals, insects and plants, form a community, interacting with one another and with the air, water and soil around them.
Every living thing, including the natural patterns they form, is part of biodiversity
Since Biodiversity covers a lot of ground, so to speak, here are the three main ways it can be measured and defined:
1. Species diversity: 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.
2. Genetic diversity: 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.
3. Ecosystem diversity: 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.
Read more about biodiversity
and the role of the Convention
in preserving life on earth.