What is Biodiversity?

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity (short for ‘biological diversity’) describes the whole variety of life on earth. It includes all species of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms and the natural systems that support them. In Suffolk, this includes dormice and otters, butterflies, oak trees, meadows, the Breckland heaths and coastal Sandlings.

Why is Biodiversity important?

Biodiversity makes up the living landscape around us and maintains our natural ‘life support system’ of water, air, food and natural resources. It affects the view from our window, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the materials and medicines we use, the places we go for relaxation and the normal functioning of the natural systems on which our lives depend.

Biodiversity affects every one of us because it is truly cross-cutting, relating to social, health and economic issues. For example, work to conserve wildlife can have spin off benefits such as strengthening local communities, improving the health and well-being of those involved in physical work outdoors and encouraging more tourists to visit and spend money in the area. Thus biodiversity can make significant contributions towards the delivery of other public body services and targets.

In Summary, Biodiversity:

  • Supports the ecosystem services that maintain air, soil and water quality and that reduce flooding and pollution
  • Is integral in our response to climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Contributes to strong local economies
  • Provides us with essential products and materials
  • Provides opportunities for community engagement, volunteering and learning
  • Can improve our health and well-being
  • Signifies local character and distinctiveness, and offers opportunities to improve local areas through landscape-scale restoration and creation

Why is there a Problem?

There are several reasons why biodiversity is being lost including:

  • habitat loss due to intensive farming and development
  • non-native species (for example American signal crayfish carry a disease that doesn’t affect them, but kills our native white-clawed crayfish within a few hours)
  • pollution of soils, air and waterways.

For more information about biodiversity, visit the Natural History Museum website.