Biodiversity

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Biodiversity Introduction

Biodiversity is the variety among living organisms from all sources including, amongst other, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. 

Ecosystem Diversity is about the diversity of different ecosystems, e.g. the different ecosystems that exist in a Country.

Species Diversity is about the different types of plants and animals which exist within an ecosystem. 

Species Richness is the amount of species.

Genetic Diversity is the variations within a species, genetic diversity is vital for species longevity. 

Biodiversity is often used as a measure of health of biological systems. The biodiversity found on Earth today consists of many millions distinct biological species. 

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Key Terms

Provisioning services (sometimes called goods) are products derived directly from the ecosystem, e.g. Timber, fruit, meat, fish. Some are sustainable and some are at risk of exhaustion.

Regualting services is vital to the functioning of the earth's ecosystems, e.g. trees are vital because they play roles as carbon sinks, flood and soil production. 

Cultural services are provided by ecosystems, enjoyment people get from the ecosystem.

Supporting services are processes such as nutrient cycling.

The Financial value of Biodiversity, Annual Sales (Billion $)
Pharmaceuticals can be up to 150 billion dollars.
Personal care and cosmetics values up to around 2.8 billion dollars.

Destruction is the total loss of an ecosystem, completely destroying it (nothing is left)

Degradation reduces the quality of an ecosystem, its not now the same. 

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Factors affecting Biodiversity

  • Habitat Destruction (HUMAN FACTOR): Destroying habitats will destroy the species, they will have no way to survive. 
  • History and Age (GLOBAL AND CONTINENTAL FACTOR)
  • Size of an Area (GLOBAL AND CONTINENTAL FACTOR): If made up of one plant. May have more biodiversity depending on the area, e.g. Desert.
  • Productivity (LOCAL FACTOR): More productive = weathers is good, etc. Means good soil and more biodiversity.
  • Interaction between Species (REGIONAL FACTOR): Invasive Species = The Grey Squirrel has wiped out the population of red squirrels.
  • Dispersal and Colonisation (REGIONAL FACTOR)
  • Succession (REGIONAL FACTOR)
  • Altitude Range (GLOBAL AND CONTINENTAL FACTOR)
  • Habitat Architecture (LOCAL FACTOR)
  • Disturbance (REGIONAL FACTOR)
  • Effective Conservation and Restoration (HUMAN FACTOR)
  • Habitat Heterogeneity (LOCAL FACTOR)
  • Isolation (GLOBAL AND CONTINENTAL FACTOR)
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Biodiversity Hotspots

Biodiversity Hotspots are places in the world with lots of biodiversity, especially endemic species. Hotspots only cover 2.3% of the Earth's surface and they have been affected by man and have lost 70% of their vegetation. Hotspots have over 50% of the world's plants species and 42% of terrestrial vertebrates are endemic to hotspots.The global distribution of biodiversity is higher along the Southern Hemisphere, e.g. Madagascar, Brazil and Australia.

Why is Biodiversity so important?

  • Biodiversity supports complex interactions between plants, animals and people. 
  • Biodiversity and natural processes are environmental regulators, e.g. flood control, soil erosion, clean air, etc. 
  • Biodiversity provides essential goods and services, e.g. food, medicine, raw materials.
  • Biodiversity has an aesthetic (Visual) and spiritual value - quality of life/health is closely linked to the environment. 
  • Genetic biodiversity can control a agrosystem resistence to pest/diseases.
  • Biodiversity is valuable for recreation, e.g. in the countryside and urban natures areas.
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Madagascar - Biodiversity hotspot

  • Madagascar has an exceptionally distinctive flora and fauna with over 90% of the species in many groups found nowhere else.
  • Best known of Madagascar's unique mammals are the Lemurs.
  • More than 600 new species have been discovered in Madigascar's unique habitats in the past decade, according to a report published by the conservation group WWF.
  • WWF has also highlighted that the diversity in Madagascar is fragile because the Country suffers from both economic and political problems. 
  • Home to 5% of the earth's whole plant and animal species.
  • 8/10 species here are never found anywhere else in the World.
  • Approximately 90% of all plant and animal species found in Madagascar are endemic.
  • More than 80% of Madagascar's 14,883 plant species are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Among the 346 known species of reptiles, 314 are unique to Madagascar.
  • 96% of the tree and large shrubs of Madagascar are unique to the island.
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Galapagos Islands - Biodiversity Hotspot

  • The Galapapos Islands is also a threatened area
  • Is a group of 12 large and several hundred smaller islands in the Pacific lying 800km/500 mi off the coast of Ecuador.
  • The Island's Biodiversity is under threat from several sources. The human population is growing at an unsustainable rate of 8% per year.
  • Introduced species has also caused damage, and in 1996 a US$ 5million, five-year eradication plan commenced in an attempt to get rid of the islands introduced species such as goats, rats, deer and donkeys. 
  • The Galapagos Islands have low biodiversity because the islands are 600 miles from the nearest land.
  • In total, 32 indigenous species of mammals have been recorded in Galapagos in recent times. This excludes domesticated species which have become feral (dogs, cats, pigs, goats, donkeys, horses and cattle) and introduced rodents (mice and rats).
  • 27 species of reptiles found in the Galapagos of which 17 are endemic.
  • There are 16 species of Whales, 7 types of dolphins, 18 species of morays, 5 species of rays and 12 species of sharks.
  • Native land mammals are rare in the Galapagos, largely due to the islands' evolution in isolation. The species that do inhabit the islands had to travel quite a distance to get there.
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Daintree Rainforest, Australia

  • Importance, Conservation, Management and the Key players.
  • The Daintree Rainforest is part of a huge stretch of rainforest known as the Wet Tropics.
  • The Wet Tropics region has the highest levels of biodiversity and endemism in Australia.
  • The Daintree Rainforest is 135 million years old, it is the oldest rainforest in the world.
  • It is home to the greatest amount of plant and animal species which are rare, or threatened with extinction, anywhere in the world.
  • The Daintree has about 120 days of rain per year and an all-year growing season.
  • 1% of light reaches the ground; there are as many as 200 species of tree per hectare. 
  • Tourism is the most dangerous threat towards the Daintree forest, tourism and recreation in the Daintree region is worth $141.7million a year; has generated 3500 jobs.
  • The Wet Tropics Management Authority manages the Wet Tropics as a hertiage site. 
  • The Douglas Shire Council is also the local council for Daintree- determines issues like planning permission. Local people wanted to see the population decrease and so the council voted to gradually achieve this; the council was abolished in 2008 however. 
  • Many organisations support the presrvation of the Daintree Rainforest: The Australian Rainforest Foundation (AFR) is a non-profit organisation which has involved itself in projects that plan to protect and conserve the species of birds; an example was to build a corridor that links to Cairns to the southern coastal town of Carwell.
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Masai Mara game reserve:

Example of a Degraded area:

  • Experienced a breakdown in management - decline in general state of grassland ecosystems. 
  • Park fees did not go towards protecting the reserve and park rangers were not properly paid. They could do little to stop hunting of the game that tourists wanted to see (such as Zebras, Giraffes and Antelopes)
  • In 2008, local councils that ran the park were replaced by a private organisation and foreign doners gifted $300,000 which went towards 4 vehicles. The organisation not runs on a non profit basis but 50% of revenue will support the Masai tribes. 
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Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA):

Example of a protected area:

  • Coastal town of Soufriere on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. Offshore there are coral reefs which had been effected by many problems that led to the SMMA.
  • Degradation of water quality, depletion of fish, degradation of beach, pollution, anchor damage to reefs. 
  • Also conflicts occurred between yachts and fishermen, local community and hoteliers, fishermen and local authorities and between fishermen and hoteliers. 
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Udzungwa Mountains National Park:

Example of a pristine area

  • While most forests in the east African mountains have experienced severe degradation, Udzungwa Mountains National Park has remained Pristine. 
  • 276 tree species, 50 endemic, 55 mammals. 
  • Protects local villagers from floods and provides food and medicines - collecting firewood and hunting is not allowed. 
  • Pressures on the park includes rapid population growth. 
  • Local people are involved in sustainable bottom-up strategies; projects such as tree nurseries and developing fuel efficient stoves. Agricultural diversification such as bee keeping and vegetable farming provide jobs.
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The Key Players in Biodiversity PART ONE

  • A range of players have a key role in managing biodiversity. Many people argue that global or international players weild the greatest power. Some groups are commited to the conservation while others export the resource, not always for the same purpose. 
  • GLOBAL: countries get together to develop coservation treaties which then require an agreed number of Country signitures before they become international law. These treaties usually fund conservation work, designate protected areas and regulating trade in endangered species, some of the main treaties include: 
    • The Ramsar Convention: to conserve wetlands, signed by 147 since 1971.
    • The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ratified by 148 countries. 
    • The World Heritage Convention: Designates and protects outstanding cultural and natural sites, was signed in 1972 and is adopted by over 180 countries. 
  • Transnational Corporations also operate on a global scale. They can determine which goods and services are produced and how, they are increasingly beginning to favour green strategies for reasons such as public image and long-term benefit.
  • International Institutions are also players on a global scale. They include UN agencies, The World bank and the World trade organisation. They initially favoured large, short term projects rather than ones that met long-term local needs in developing countries and so some of their activities can be controversial.
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The Key players in Biodiversity PART TWO

  • Non-Governmental organisations playa vital role in biodiversdity coinservation. Some, like WWF and Greenpeace international,operate on a global scale; WWF operates in more than 100 countries. WWF wants to stop the degradation of the planets natural environment whereas smaller organisations such as FAN strive to conserve biodiverity by protecting sustainble use of natural resources. NGOs vary in their methods and so not always do they agree. 
  • NATIONAL: Governments play a vital role in the management of biodiversity, acting as both regulators and facilitators. They establich and enforce laws and manage natural resources.
  • LOCAL: Local communities have diverse values. Indigenous people are often dependant on biodiversity for basic survival. Local communites of farmers and fishermen frequently have strong views about conservation, as it conflicts with their subsistence. However there are numerous successful schemes where people manage their own local resources for ecotourism. 
  • INDIVIDUALS: are the most diverse of all, in their demands as consumers of food, fuel, water, shelter, etc. In the developed world ethical consumerism has led to people buying more environmental firendly products. Ecosystems are seen as recreational and so human behaviour can have both a positive and negative effect. Scientist play a vital role in measuring the state of biodiversity and enhancing its quality, some are paid to find new products which can lead to conflict with others.
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Key Players Overall

  • Individuals can have a large say and make an impact. 
  • NGOS can also have a large impact but their impact will only have effect in specifics areas. 
  • National governments have the abilty to make laws and so it can be said that they have the majority of power in some cases. 
  • TNCS develop industries in a range of global locations in order to access markets and keep costs down. Profit is their main motive and so TNCS probably have the least impact when it comes to conserving and protecting biodiversity. 
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Key players in Biodiversity management

  • Total protection: Cuts off areas where land is used for specific ways, usually science.
  • Conservation: Active management of areas, ecosystems and landscape seeks to balance the need to protect with demand for human activity.
  • Exploitation: Taking advantage of an area. Where demand for human activity has exceeded the Maximum Sustainable Yield. 
  • Restoration: Recreate an ecosystem to its original state, to the level where it will become a conservation or total protection. 

Who are the Key players?

  • Governments
  • Scientists/Scientific organisations, research groups (Local and national) 
  • Local People
  • Tourists
  • Non governmental organisations (WWF, Greenpeace)
  • International bodies (IGOS - UN, UNESCO)
  • Individuals (AL Gore, David Bellamy, Attenboroughs)
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The Future of Biodiversity

Why might it be difficult to predict future biodiversity?

  • Climate Change
    • Impact on habitat
  • Human Activity
    • Direct impact, can't predict how suitable management will be. 
  • Disasters
    • Direct impact, can't predict how suitable management will be. 
    • Increase of hydrometeorological disasters = floods, etc. 
  • Medical Research
  • Future Agreements; local, national, international.
  • Population Growth 
  • Cannot predict decisions/ideas and the development of other countries. 
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Total Protection, Biosphere Reserve, Conservation

  • TOTAL PROTECTION:
    • Offers the most protection available.
    • Would be expensive to make sure that ecosystem is left undisturbed and Cuts people off from the ecosystem. 
  • BIOSPHERE RESERVE (Futuristic Idea):
    • Offers the most protection available and thinks about the future.
    • Could cause conflict and is Expensive.
  • CONSERVATION IN SITU:
    • Conservation protects a species where it normally lives. Also protects the species with which it interacts.
    • Species may still threatened, e.g. poachers; population may be too small to preserve and gene pool may be limited which may effect survival rate.
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Conservation EX SITU and Restoration

  • CONSERVATION EX SITU: 
    • Removes endangered species and breeds/conserves in captivity such as zoos. Allows them to survive even if extinct in the wild; can be reintroduced. 
    • Expensive and can only look after relatively few of any one species. 
    • Animals not breed successfully in zoos.
    • Stressful for the animals.
  • RESTORATION: 
    • Shows why biodiversity is important, restores highly degraded ecosystems of derelict sites from scratch. 
    • Is very challenging and expensive.
    • BUT restoration can also just add to ecosystem which isn't as costly.
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Management of threats towards Biodiversity

CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES were first formed in the 1960s and it takes about a year for Countries to become involved; these Countries join voluntarily. Some of the 176 Contracting Parties include: The USA (were the first to join), the UK (joined 29th), China, Germany, India, France and Egypt. CITES are financed from the CITES Trust fund. This fund is replenished from contributions from the Parties to the Convention based in the United Nations scale assessment. CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the convention has to be authorize through a licensing system. The Species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need:
1. Most Endangered threatened with extinction: Pampas Deer
2. Not now threatened with extinction but may become so: Fennec Fox, Black Seahorse
3. Species that country has asked to be monitored, potential of over exploitation: Aardwolf.
Roughly 5,000 species of animals and 29,000 species of plants are protected by CITES against over exploitation through international trade. 

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Management of threats towards Biodiversity

  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen about 1,300 kilometres from the North Pole. 
  • The Nordic Gene Bank has stored a backup of Nordic plant Germplasm as frozen seeds in an abandoned coal mine as Svalbard since 1984.
  • The Facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The seeds are duplicate samples are 'Spare' copies of seeds held in gene banks worldwide. The Seed vault is an attempt to provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks as well a refuge for seeds in the case of a large-scale regional or global crisis. 
  • The Seed vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre. 
  • Construction of the Seed Vault was funded entirely by the Government of Norway. Storage of seeds in the seed vault is free of charge. Operational costs will be paid by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Primary funding of the trust comes from organisations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and from various governments worldwide.
  • The NGB has deposited more than 10,000 seed samples of more than 2,000 cultivars of 300 different species over the years.
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Management of threats towards Biodiversity

  • London Zoo Conservation Programme: Operates in Britain and 50 Countries Worldwide. ZSL works with local communities in order to conserve the environment and natural habitat of Wild Animals and promote sustainability. For over 180 years the Zoological Society London has played an essential role in convening experts to address challenging science and conservation issues, including hosting high-profile meetings, symposia and national and international workshops.
  • ZSL work with national and international natural resource industries and other businesses to enable them to limit the negative impacts of their activities. They assist in  biodiversity monitoring and advise on best practices for certification of industry products, including the FSC and Marine Stewardship council.
  • Business and Biodiversity Projects include: Wildlife Wood Projects, Biodiversity and Palm Oil, Corporate Conservation Complex and the developing of new tools for companies to understand and mangage biodiversity.
  • ZSL also leads successful projects working in direct partnership with companies such as Project Ocean, a high profile retail activism campaign with Selfridges Department Store. 
  • Their work addresses a broad range of threats to biodiversity but they focus particularly on climate change and disease which are the two major threats.
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Management of threats towards Biodiversity

  • North Devon's Biosphere Reserve.
  • The Biosphere Reserve's area is based on the catchments of the Rivers Taw and Torridge in north Devon. 
  • The area of North Devon's Biosphere Reserve is some 3300 square kilometres and it includes about 150,000 people.
  • Biosphere reserves are established through the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB). In order to be designated a biosphere reserve, a candidate reserve must be nominated by a national government and approved by the MAB programme.
  • UNESCO launched the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme in 1970 and the Biosphere Reserve concept began in 1974. The original criteria for a Biosphere Reserve were primarily about scientific conservation and research and sites were chosen to represent the main ecosystems of the planet. Most UK Biosphere Reserves were designated in 1976 under these criteria.
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The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

  • Measures and records biodiversity.
  • Originated from UN millenium summit. Includes leaders gathering and dicussing future.
  • SCENARIO ONE: policies improvingthe well-being of those in poorer countries by removing trade barriers and subsidies.
    • Better trade.
    • trying to solve problems in poor counties and problems when they arise.
  • SCENARIO TWO: local and regional management.
    • Solve problems on local scale, not national; can't force countries to follow scenario.
    • This scenario could be the best situation if everyone followed it. 
  • SCENARIO THREE: the rich protect their borders by attempting to confine poverty.
    • This would be the worst scenario to happen, the loss of biodiversity would be massive, there will be a decline in all situations; rich don't want to help poor country.
    • Rich and poor countries would all suffer due to conflict, if richer countries chose this scenario then they would lose trade and resources.
  • SCENARIO FOUR: push ecosystems to their limit of production.
    • Trys to exploit biodiversity and ecosystems.
    • There would be major conflict between who has access to which habitat or region.
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CAMPFIRE, Zimbabwe

The CAMPFIRE Association works with local communities to help them to manage their land and their wildlife for future generations and to help them realise financial benefits from effective resource stewardship. We provide the following services to local communities:

Law enforcement: We train and financially support “Resource Monitors” or “Game Scouts”, who monitor and apprehend those persons breaking the national, district or locally developed rules designed to protect natural resources.
Contracting and monitoring of commercial activities: We work with private tourism and safari operators in liason with Local Authorities to broker contracts and ensure that producer communities are fairly compensated for access to their wildlife resources.
Managing human-wildlife conflict: A variety of wild mammals and reptiles pose major threats to people’s lives and crops. The CAMPFIRE Association provides technical support and funding for local projects that will reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Fire management: Help to reduce the effects of wild fires that cannot be controlled with effective fire protection strategies, including training, and in some cases the purchase and maintenance of equipment.
Counting wildlife and quota setting: Knowledge of the number of animals in a given area and where they are found using ground-based methods of counting allows producer communities to effectively increase the productivity of wildlife based enterprises and contribute to improvement of wildlife habitats. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coral Reefs and why they are important

  • Biodiversity: Home to over 25% of known fish species.
  • Shoreline Protection: They provide natural protection for the coast without any cost. 
  • Food: Local people eat Lobsters, Fish, etc. from the reefs; Fishing has put significant pressure on Reefs though.
  • Medicine:
  • Aquarium Trade:
  • Decorative Objects:
  • Building Materials:
  • Education and research:
  • Tourism:
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