What’s Biodiversity?

wildflowers-1_zepplin-zoo-rostockYou may have heard the term “biodiversity” before, but are not quite sure what it means and why it’s important to you and your community. Planet Earth is made up of many different landscapes, from deep ocean trenches to towering mountains. In almost all of these places, you’ll find animals and plants that have adapted to live there. These species form unique communities called ecosystems – a network of species interacting with one another and the air, water and soil.

Biodiversity, quite simply, is the full range of animals and plants that you’d expect to find in an ecosystem. If you look carefully at a biodiverse system, you’ll find everything from single celled organisms up to gigantic trees, each living thing playing its part to keep the ecosystem healthy and stable.

So why is biodiversity important?

Ecosystems are quite complex and we have only just begun to understand how they work. As we learn, it is becoming evident that life is completely interdependent; each species has adapted to perform a function within its ecosystem. If we lose biodiversity, ecosystems will start to fail, and that makes life for other species – including humans – more vulnerable. Eventually, if enough species are lost, an ecosystem will change irreversibly – and probably wipe out all the other species that originally lived there.

What does biodiversity do for us?

Anglewing butterfly - Zoo BoissièreEach species has adapted to perform a function within its ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem provides a large amount of benefits to humans. They not only make human life possible, but also contribute to our quality of life.

Animals and plants provide what scientists call “ecosystem services”. Whether it’s pollination for crops, flood prevention or any number of functions that are useful to us as well as nature as a whole, and biodiversity plays a role in the provision of most of them. Losing species can have knock-on effects that we can’t predict.

Join the Let it Grow campaign activities!

 There are many reasons why biodiversity is being lost, and it’s happening everywhere, even in your community. To find out more and to get involved with helping nature in your area, please look up your local institution and…Let It Grow!