Biodiversity - the importance
- Why is Biodiversity important?
- What are the threats to biodiversity?
- What are the effects of biodiversity loss?
- What are invasive non-native species?
Why is Biodiversity important?
We are very reliant on the world's natural assets, soil, air, water and living things, which are all heavily dependent on biodiversity. The water, oxygen and carbon cycles ensure that life is possible on the Earth.
Biodiversity provides us with:
- food and water
- emotional and mental wellbeing. Contact with nature reduces stress and low mood and helps recovery from illness - nature helps stimulate and sustain healthy lifestyles
- opportunities for recreation and education
- economic benefits - such as the tourism industry in our national parks
- carbon storage, flood prevention, climate regulation
What are the threats to biodiversity?
- habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation due to over farming deforestation, extracting natural resources which all isolate plant or animal communities into smaller areas
- natural disasters - hurricanes, volcanic eruptions
- pollution of water, soil, air
- invasive non-native species, pests and disease
- climate change - global temperature changes meaning environments are no longer habitable for species. Irregular temperatures and weather patterns affect lifecycles of plants and animals.
- human actions - population growth and urban expansion, new roads and transport networks, traffic and congestion and over fishing
- use of fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides
- death of birds and animals due to them eating or getting caught up in our litter
These threats to biodiversity have many links to other issues such as climate change, air quality and waste.
What are the effects of biodiversity loss?
- increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, wildfires, droughts
- increased pollution that directly affects animal and plant communities and impacts on the natural cycles such as the water cycle
- mass species extinction predominately as a result of human activities - since 1970 there has been nearly a 70% decline in mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
- overall reduction in ecosystem productivity - less viable food crops due to reductions in soil fertility, extreme changes in weather and disease
- carbon sinks are lost, and stored carbon released into the atmosphere adding to global warming
- woodland - trees absorb CO2,
- peatland - absorbs and stores large amounts of CO2,
- oceans - absorb one third of all the carbon emitted
- changes in habitats - the current push to plant more trees should not be done without considering the value of the land that they are to be planted on.
The effects of biodiversity loss are issues which also effect a number of other things such as climate change, air quality and waste.
Many natural processes have been interrupted, damaged or broken by man:
- through the damming, straightening, widening and deepening of rivers
- the burning of peatland
- the draining of wetlands
- the extermination of predators
- the killing and conserving of species according to our desires
- the introduction of non-native species
Rewilding is about working with nature to get natural processes working again. A key principle of rewilding is acknowledging that nature may not need our intervention and that it can lead its own recovery. Nature knows what it wants, and it has evolved instinctively to its niche. If humans can recognise, restore and harness the missing or damaged natural processes, then nature will create its own natural abundance, and 'wilder' wildlife by default.
Rewilding is when an area is restored to its naturally occurring state, usually though changes in management and/or the reintroduction of species which had been lost from a particular area
Rewilding projects can be implemented on a spectrum from species reintroduction to unmanaging habitats completely and leaving nature to its own devices
Find out about rewilding trial sites in South Ribble
What are invasive non-native species?
One of the biggest threats to biodiversity is foreign species, pests and disease, referred to as Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS). These can be plant or animal species. Removing and reporting invasive species wherever they appear on your land is very important. These species can outcompete native species, removing diversity, nutrients and space from habitats
Some of the common ones in South Ribble are:
- Himalayan balsam
- Japanese knotweed
- Giant hogweed
Government advice on how to control the spread non-native species
Advice on how to identify non-native species
Pollinating insects are vital for the successful production of food. In recent years due to changes in climate and increased use of pesticides and herbicides their numbers are reducing.
Key pollinating species are bees, butterflies, moths, wasps and other insects. Within Lancashire there are 133 species of bee, 7 of which are designated as Lancashire key species.