"Biodiversity underpins the functioning of the ecosystems on which we depend for food and fresh water, health and recreation, and protection from natural disasters. Its loss also affects us culturally and spiritually. This may be more difficult to quantify, but is nonetheless integral to our wellbeing"
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
Biodiversity is the variation of living organisms from all sources, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and all the habitats of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Imagine life without all this diversity! Life on earth would cease to exist!
Common terms to know
• Species - a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. For example, the ash is a species of tree, the squirrel is a species of mammal.
• Habitat - the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds, influences and is utilised by a species population. For example, a woodland or a bog is a habitat.
• Ecosystem - is a community of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms that live, feed, reproduce and interact together in the same area or environment. Irish examples include a bog, a woodland, a marsh, a hedge, a lake or even a rock pool.
• Ecosystem Services - are the benefits of ecosystems. Ecosystems can provide protection from flooding, regulate climate change, breakdown wastes and recycle nutrients, filter and purify water, maintain soil fertility, purify the air, control pests and diseases and provide goods such as woods, textiles and food.
The world’s biological diversity is an essential natural resource which humans have used and benefited from for thousands of years. Biodiversity keeps us alive! Therefore, it is vital we conserve it!