Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Conservation: Biodiversity
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is a term which describes the variety of all forms of life on Earth. Biodiversity is used to describe the smallest single-celled animals and plants through to complex animals including whales and even humans. Biodiversity also describes the variety of life within the habitat which they depend upon.

The Convention on Biodiversity defines biodiversity as;
"The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."Why is Biodiversity important?
Nature in general works on the principle of balance with each species finding a habitat niche within which it can live. Many species of plant and animal rely upon other species for food but nature always ensures that it only takes what it needs to survive ensuring that no particular species has undue pressure put upon it.

So what's changed?
The main thing which as changed is the impact which humans have upon the natural world. This is a relatively (in terms of the earth age) minuscule period of time. Throughout known history, man has exploited the natural world but in the last 500 years, our impact upon the world around us has had a devastating impact upon species diversity... to the point that humans have been responsible for a countless number of species going extinct across the globe.

Extinctions have occurred in the past haven't they?
Yes they have. Extinction has occurred throughout the history of the earth but all of these extinctions have been as a result of natural causes and not directly as a result of the impact of a single species (i.e. Humans) on ALL others.

Extinction rates as a result of human activity has increased to 1,000 times the natural level with 12% of birds, 25% of mammals and 32% of amphibians being threatened with extinction over the next one hundred years.*

* Source Department for Food and Rural Affairs - Defra.
Why care about Biodiversity?
Because survival of the human race depends upon biodiversity;
Every living thing, the geology, water and air interact in a wide variety of ways to support life. Many interactions are vital for species survival and changes in any component of this complex system can have a devastating effect. A loss of what we may see as an insignificant species of no importance to human survival may have a distant and indirect influence upon the survival of the human race as a species... but we won't know this... until its too late.

Because our economy and lifestyles depend upon biodiversity;
Humans need biodiversity to survive... its where our food comes from, its the source of timber for building structures and to produce energy, its drugs, soaps, starches, oils, dyes, fabrics and so much more... and its the products which we have yet to discover... products such as drugs which may help the human race survive disease in the future and its DNA, genetic information which make life which may provide answers and solutions to future problems we may face. Biodiversity is what regulates our climate and weather patterns... its the air we breath.

Because caring about the plants and animals we share the planet with is morally right;
The vast majority of people would say that it is morally wrong to allow a species to go extinct if this is the result of human activity and that it is wrong to treat nature as if it existed for our own convenience to use and abuse.

Because nature inspires and we are part of nature;
A healthy, diverse environment enriches peoples lives on a day to day basis. We love to be around animals and plants, we keep animals as pets, they relaxes us, we buy flowers as gifts in order to show emotion towards others, we engage with nature and ask questions about it... indeed, wildlife is something which fascinates the smallest child to the oldest scientist and we live among nature every day... yet we take it so much for granted that humans in general have a tenancy to disregard nature and biodiversity as something which gets in the way of so call 'progress' and 'growth'.