Maintaining Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of different species living in an ecosystem. High levels of biodiversity make an ecosystem more stable. Human interactions with an ecosystem can have an overall positive or negative impact on biodiversity.

Positive Impact on Biodiversity

We can make a positive impact on biodiversity by reducing practices that harm it, or lessen their impact. Let’s look at the ways we can reduce the negative effects of humans on biodiversity.

Breeding programs

Endangered species are often placed in breeding programs in an effort to reduce their risk of extinction. These programs typically involve breeding the animals in captivity, where they can reproduce and increase their numbers in a safe and controlled environment.

Once their numbers have been restored to a safer level, these animals can be reintroduced back into the wild, either joining an existing population or establishing a new one.

Introducing field margins

Reducing the negative impacts of necessary practices, such as farming, is important in wildlife conservation. Farmers typically grow large fields that contain one type of crop. In these fields, we will not find many species of plants and animals, so they have low levels of biodiversity.

To counteract this, governments often introduce new laws or pay farmers to use practices that increase biodiversity. Many farmers leave a narrow strip of land around the field, where anything can grow. This is called a field margin, which you can see below:

They also plant hedgerows between the fields. Both field margins and hedgerows provide habitats for new species, which helps to increase biodiversity.

Recycling waste

Individuals can contribute to reducing the loss of biodiversity by recycling waste materials. A large amount of waste is dumped into landfills. By recycling more waste material, fewer habitats are destroyed and fewer toxic chemicals will harm the environment. This will have a positive effect on biodiversity.

Reducing deforestation

Many governments regulate deforestation by setting quotas on how much deforestation is allowed each year by businesses.

Conflicting Pressures

In theory, it would make sense to carry out all the practices that improve biodiversity. However, in practice, many things get in the way. Some examples of this include:

The cost of protecting biodiversity

Protecting biodiversity can be very expensive and both businesses and governments may not think that the benefits outweigh the costs. Sometimes, governments pay farmers a subsidy to make up for the money that they lose by protecting biodiversity.

The development of society

To meet the needs of the growing human population and maintain our current standard of living, we often rely on practices that have negative impacts on the environment. For example, the use of fertilisers, which can be harmful to aquatic life, is necessary to produce enough food to feed the entire population.

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