The Biodiversity Challenge
Our generation faces biodiversity loss on a massive scale, with species extinctions occurring at a rate far greater than the natural cycle, owing largely to habitat destruction caused by human activities such as deforestation and land clearance. But there is hope amid the gloom, if we act now.
LONDON – In this, the United Nations’ International Year of Biological Diversity, and with the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Japan, it is clear that the environmental challenges we face are severe and increasing, and that the need for action has never been more urgent.
Our lives, and those of all other creatures on this planet, are both part of and dependent on biodiversity. Simply put, biodiversity is the web of life, including all organisms found in every habitat, from the fish of the deep oceans to the birds of the tropical rainforests and everything in between.
Plant and fungal diversity lies at the very foundation of biodiversity, and on them all other life depends. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, thereby providing the air we breathe and helping to regulate the climate. They provide food, medicine, fuel, shelter, clean water, and fertile soils. Plant diversity sustains us now, and in the future it will enable us to adapt, innovate, and ultimately survive.