Main Threats to Biodiversity: Explained

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Biodiversity, or the variety of living things, refers to a group of plants and animals that live together in an ecosystem. It entails the various species that exist in a certain location and on the planet as a whole, as well as how they are sustained. An ecosystem with good biodiversity would include many different kinds of life: animals, plants, fungi, and so on. Ecosystems are made up of interconnected organisms.

Threats To Biodiversity

  • Human Activities and Loss of Habitat,
  • Deforestation,
  • Desertification,
  • Marine Environment,
  • Increasing Wildlife Trade and
  • Climate Change.

Human Activities and Loss of Habitat

Human activities are causing a global biodiversity deficit in animals and plants that is 50 to 100 times greater than the typical rate of species loss without them. Two of the most frequent species in rich biomes are tropical forests and coral reefs.

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Tropical forests are beset with difficulties in conversion to other land-use types, whereas coral reefs are afflicted by increasing levels of overfishing and pollution. If the current rate of deforestation in tropical forests continues for the next 30 years (about 1% every year), the number of species that may be supported by remaining forest conditions would be reduced by 5 to 10 percent compared to forest circumstances without human interference.

Without human activity, the rate of decline would be 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than that predicted by researchers. According to certain research, as many as one-half of all mammal and bird species may become extinct in 200 to 300 years worldwide.

Biodiversity loss can result from a number of activities, including:

  • Habitat conversion and destruction;
  • Over-exploitation of species;
  • Disconnected patches of original vegetation; and
  • Air and water pollution.

Over the years, anthropogenic climate change will increasingly become an important cause in biodiversity loss. These demands on biodiversity are largely driven by economic growth and related requirements such as increasing demand for biological resources.

Activities that endanger economic development and human health by eliminating useful materials, genetic stocks, and ecosystem services. Food, wood, and medicines are among the material losses, as well as resources essential for leisure and tourism. Losing genetic diversity is similar to losing species variety in terms of how it increases the probability of future environmental damage producing severe commodity and service shortages.

Reduced biodiversity also impairs important ecological functions such as pollination, soil fertility maintenance, flood control, water purification, waste assimilation, and carbon and nutrient cycling.

Deforestation

Forest ecosystems include 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and provide wood fiber, biomass energy, and important components of the global water, energy, and nutrient cycles. In many regions of the globe, forested areas are being destroyed or damaged.

According to predictions, demand for wood is anticipated to quadruple over the next fifty years, making it more difficult to rely on sustainable forest practices. The destruction of forests poses a major potential source of green house gas emissions in addition to threats to biodiversity and potential shortages in forest products supply.

Almost all of the carbon stored in forests is kept in soils, with only a minor amount kept up above ground and a third stored below ground. About three times as much carbon is present in forest ecosystems as presently exists in the atmosphere, with almost one-third of this carbon being held underground in trees and other vegetation and two-thirds being retained beneath the earth’s surface.

Much of the carbon stored in forests is released into the atmosphere when they are destroyed or burned. According to current projections, tropical deforestation and burning account for about one-fifth of human-caused carbon emissions.

Desertification

Biodiversity loss is caused by desertification and deforestation. Both processes are strongly influenced by agricultural expansion. Deforestation has a direct cost, as does the loss of important plants and animal species. Desertification occurs as a result of poor land management, which can be exacerbated by climatic changes. In temperate regions, plowing the soil frequently leads to a 25-40% average decrease in soil organic matter over 25 years as a result of converting wild areas to agriculture.

Degrading soil organic matter is always a good sign of soil degradation, and it’s frequently associated with reduced water infiltration, fertility, and fertilizer retention. Ploughing also exposes soils to wind and water erosion, polluting significant quantities of freshwater.

Marine Environment

The world’s oceans have a significant influence on the global environment. They affect global climate, food production, and economic activities by covering 70% of the planet’s surface. In many areas of the globe, however, coastal and marine environments are being rapidly destroyed.

Pollution, over-exploitation of resources, development of important habitats such as wetlands, and mangroves, and water flow from bad land-use practices have all caused substantial drop in near shore fisheries production and aquatic biodiversity in coastal areas.

Increasing Wildlife Trade

Nick Barnes noted, “Trade is another factor contributing to species loss and conflict between North and South.” Global trade in animals is expected to total more than $20 billion each year. There are at least 40,000 primates, 90,000 African elephant ivory tusks, 1 million orchids, 4 million birds living wild worldwide, 10 million lizard skins, 15 million furs, and 350 million tropical fish traded on a worldwide basis.

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Climate Change

As the climate warms, species will move to higher latitudes and altitudes in both hemispheres. Plant and animal composition are affected by the rise in CO2 levels. In addition, aquatic ecosystems, particularly coral reefs, mangrove swamps, and coastal wetlands, are at risk from climate change.

Corals, the most biologically diverse marine systems, are potentially vulnerable to changes in both sea level and ocean temperature. While most coral systems should be able to grow at a sufficient pace to survive a 15-95 centimeter sea-level rise over the next century, many of these systems will face long-term failure if temperatures increase by several degrees Fahrenheit.

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