The Earth is home to biodiverse ecosystems and incredible species. The term biodiversity encompasses the array of species found in unique and varied environments and ecosystems around the globe. Climate change, global warming and human activities all threaten biodiversity, disrupting the ecosystems that so many species rely on to survive. But to combat this problem, it is important that we know all that we can about it, so these are some of the main facts about biodiversity loss that you should know.
1) Most Major Habitats are Affected
The effects of biodiversity loss can be felt all around the world. A recent UN report found the average number of native species in major land habitats around the world has fallen by 20% or more, most of this reduction in species population numbers have occurred since 1900.
2) Agriculture is a Big Part of Biodiversity Loss
Agricultural practices are one of the causes of biodiversity loss around the world. More than one-third of the Earth’s land surface and 75% of freshwater resources are used for agricultural purposes such as crop cultivation or livestock production.
3) Biodiversity Loss is a Big Problem for the Ocean
It is estimated that 30-35% of sea habitats such as seagrasses, mangroves and reefs have been destroyed and there are now nearly 500 ocean dead spots.
4) Overfishing Creates Biodiversity Loss
Another one of the causes of biodiversity loss is overfishing. A recent study found that 13% of global fisheries have collapsed because the commercial exploitation of fish populations was so severe. Overfishing is one of the largest drivers for the decline of ocean wildlife numbers.
5) The Loss of Biodiversity and Habitat Loss is Bad for Our Health
The effects of biodiversity loss include increases in the likelihood of new and novel diseases, such as coronavirus. WHO reports that loss of biodiversity and habitat destruction changes the interactions between different species and the areas they inhabit, this increases the likelihood of wild animal viruses jumping to human populations.
6) We Need to Protect more of Our Seas
Although 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in ocean, only one percent of the Earth’s oceans and seas are protected. The ocean helps to regulate climate, is vital to many environmental patterns and is host to thousands of species. We need to protect more of our oceans to combat biodiversity loss.
7) Deforestation is a Driving Force of Biodiversity Loss
Deforestation around the globe is one of the major causes of biodiversity loss. Effects of biodiversity loss due to deforestation are being seen in forest ecosystems all over the world with changes in natural habitats and the decline of species in areas affected by deforestation. In Borneo alone, the WWF reports that 30% of the country’s natural forests have been cleared.
8) The Ocean May Start to Corrode Shells
Changes in atmospheric CO2 levels have a huge effect on ocean ecosystems. If concentrations of CO2 levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, the ocean may become corrosive to the shells of many ocean organisms by the end of the 21st century.
9) Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Rising
One of the major contributing causes of biodiversity loss is global warming and climate change. One UN report states that greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1980. The subsequent global temperature rise threatens the existence of many ecosystems and species around the world.
10) Biodiversity Loss is Happening Right Now
Biodiversity loss is already a major problem with many species around the world facing extinction. The UN reports that three-quarters of land environments and over 60% of marine habitats have already been significantly altered as a result of human activities.
We Can Fix This
Biodiversity loss is a real and urgent problem, but we can still fix this. Petitioning governments and organisations for policy changes is a great way to combat biodiversity loss. On a smaller scale, volunteering with biodiversity protection charities, supporting organisations like Earthly that are working to limit environmental impacts and buying products from companies that use sustainable practices are all ways that we can help to end biodiversity loss. Together, we can stop biodiversity loss and celebrate the amazing environments and species that we share the world with.