the future of biodiversity - St. Francis Xavier Church , Panvel

Green Earth Movement
An E-Newsletter for the cause of Environment, Peace, Harmony and Justice
Remember - “you and I can decide the future”
Oh, the beauty of a forest! The pleasure of walking through
it, enjoying the smells of the flowers and the wild; watching
the insects flitting about and listening to the birds chirp - how
we all love it and wish to return to it again and again. It is
this biodiversity that we have to protect and take care of in
order to enjoy the joy of it all.
But what is biodiversity?
The variety of life on Earth,
Its biological diversity is
commonly referred to as
biodiversity. The number of
species of plants, animals,
and microorganisms,
the enormous diversity of
genes in these species, the different ecosystems on the planet, such as
deserts, rainforests and coral reefs are all part of a biologically diverse
Earth. Appropriate conservation and sustainable development
strategies attempt to recognize this as being integral to any approach.
Almost all cultures have in some way or form recognized the
importance that nature, and its biological diversity has had upon them
and the need to maintain it. Yet, power, greed and politics have
affected the precarious balance.
A-1] Ecological importance:
• trees provide habitat and food for birds, insects, other plants and
animals, fungi, and micro-organisms;
• insects, bats, birds, and other animals
serve as pollinators;
• parasites and predators act as natural
population controls;
• various organisms, such as earthworms
and bacteria, are responsible for recycling
organic materials and maintaining the
productivity of soils;
• green plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and
replenish it with oxygen. Forests, for example, are particularly
important "sinks" for the absorption of carbon dioxide and thus are key
factors in reducing global climate change;………….
• wetlands serve as sponges to reduce the impacts of floods and to
cleanse streams by filtering sediments, nutrients, and contaminants
from inflowing waters.
The interaction of all these natural processes forms a complex web of
life. If any part of this web suffers or breaks downs, the future of the
other parts is threatened. Humans are in many cases degrading and
destroying the ability of biological diversity to perform the services
mentioned above.
A-2] Economical importance:
• food: species are hunted (e.g. antelopes, birds),
fished (e.g. cod, tuna fish), and gathered (e.g. fruits,
berries, mushrooms), as well as cultivated for
agriculture (e.g. wheat, corn, rice, vegetables)
and aquaculture (e.g. salmons, mussels). It is
interesting to know that, of the about 80,000
available comestible plants, humans use less than
30 to satisfy 90% of our planet's alimentary needs;
• fuel: timber and coal are only two examples of
natural resources used to produce energy;
• shelter and warmth: timber and other forest products
•(e.g. oak, beech, pine) are used as building materials and for shelter. Fibers
such as wool and cotton are used to make clothes;
• medicines: both traditional medicines and processed drugs are obtained
from biodiversity: penicillin is produced by a mould, codeine is obtained from
poppies, digitalis from foxglove and quinine from the bark of cinchona trees;
• other goods such as paper and pencils come from raw materials provided
by the Earth's diversity.
A-3] Indirect services:
•clean and drinkable water: only a small amount - about 1% - of the
water on our planet is usable directly. The rest is either salty (97%) or
frozen (2%). Forests around the world filter our usable water again and
again, constantly replenishing the
water we use for drinking, bathing, and
growing crops;
•air to breathe: plants around the world
take carbon dioxide out of the air and
put oxygen into it - oxygen that almost
all creatures need to breathe;
•fertile soils: micro-organisms recycle the
soil's organic matter and maintain its
•pollination: insect, bird and bat species carry pollen from one plant to
another (or from one part of a plant to another), thus fertilising fruit
crops and flowers.
A-4] Cultural importance:
Plants and animals are often used as symbols, for
example in flags, paintings, sculptures, photographs,
stamps, songs and legends.
Finally, biodiversity is also beautiful: it is a pleasure to see
and smell flowers in a field, To listen to birds singing, etc.
The main cause of the loss of
biodiversity can be attributed to
the influence of human beings
on the world’s ecosystem, In fact
human beings have deeply
altered the environment, and have modified the territory,
exploiting the species directly, for example by fishing and
hunting, changing the biogeochemical cycles and transferring
species from one area to another of the Planet. The threats
to biodiversity can be summarized in the following main
B-1] Alteration and loss of the habitats
The transformation of the natural areas
determines not only the loss of the vegetable
species, but also a decrease in the animal
species associated to them.
B-2] Introduction of exotic species and
genetically modified
organisms; Species
originating from a
particular area,
introduced into new
natural environments can lead to
different forms of imbalance in the
ecological equilibrium.
B-3] Pollution: human activity influences the natural
environment producing negative, direct or indirect,
effects that alter the flow of energy, the chemical
and physical constitution of the environment and
abundance of the species.
B-4] Climate change: for example, heating of
the earth’s surface affects biodiversity because
it endangers all the species that adapted to
the cold due to the latitude (the Polar species)
or the altitude (mountain species)
B-5] Overexploitation of
When the activities
connected with capturing
and harvesting (hunting,
fishing, farming) a Renewable natural resource in
a particular area is excessively intense, the resource
itself may become exhausted, as for example, is the
case of sardines, herrings, cod, tuna and many other
species that man captures without leaving enough
time for the organisms to reproduce.
B-6] Agriculture: The dramatic increase in the number of
humans during the twentieth century has instigated a
concomitant growth in agriculture, and has led to
conversion of wild lands to croplands, massive diversions
of water from lakes, rivers and underground aquifers,
and, at the same time, has polluted water and land
resources with pesticides, fertilizers, and animal wastes.
The result has been the
destruction, disturbance or
disabling of terrestrial
ecosystems, and polluted,
oxygen-depleted and
atrophied water resources.
To prevent biodiversity loss, the Government of India is
setting up biosphere reserves in different parts of the country.
These are multipurpose protected areas to preserve the
genetic diversity in different ecosystems. Till 1999, ten
biosphere reserves had been set up, namely Nilgiri,
Nandadevi, Nakrek, Great Nicobar, Gulf of Mannar, Manas,
Similipal, and Dibru Saikhowa.
A number of NGOs are being
involved in the programme to
create awareness. But legal
protection is provided only to
national parks and sanctuaries,
which cover about 4.5% of India’s
land area.
C-1] Purchase goods and services from companies that are
environmentally responsible. Although you can't always believe
marketing claims for "green" goods, a little internet research can often
shed some light on the ethics of particular companies. Where possible,
look for third-party certifications and labels. Organic, shade-grown
(coffee) and fair-trade are some practices that are more likely to
preserve biodiversity. When possible, purchase goods from responsible
companies in your local area; this cuts down on the pollution generated
in long-distance transportation.
C-2] Plant a garden
of native plants
around your home
or at your school.
In this way you can
help to preserve
plant species as well
as create habitat for
C-3] Maintain valuable wildlife
habitat on your property, such as
large trees, wetlands and natural
C-4] Consider donating part of your
land to a preservation agency, or
placing a conservation covenant on
your land to protect valuable
natural areas from future
Reduce automobile pollution (one of the
largest sources of
pollution and
damage to species
and ecosystems) by
driving less,
carpooling, cycling,
keeping your car
properly tuned and maintained and
switching to a more efficient vehicle and so
on.. Next…
A] What is covered by the Biological
Diversity Act?
The Act covers conservation, use of
Biological resources and associated
knowledge occurring in India for commercial or research
purposes or for the purposes of bio-survey and bioutilisation. It provides a framework for access to biological
resources and sharing the benefits arising out of such access
and use. The Act also includes in its ambit the transfer of
research results and application for intellectual property
rights (IPRs) relating to Indian biological resources.
State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) are to be established under Section
22(2) of the Act, So far 25 States have established the SBBs.
The Functions of State Biodiversity Boards are as under:
•Advise the State Governments, subject
to guidelines issued by the Central
Government, on matters relating
to conservation of biodiversity,
•Sustainable use of its components and
equitable sharing of benefits arising
out of utilization of biological resources.
• Regulate by granting approvals or otherwise request for commercial
utilization or bio-survey and bio utilization of any biological resource
by Indians;
Perform such other functions as necessary to carry out the provisions of
this Act or as prescribed by the State Governments.
Robert Bateman, a Canadian artist, environmentalist, and naturalist
“I am a possibilist. I believe that humanity is master of its own fate...
Before we can change direction, we have to question many of the
assumptions underlying our current philosophy. Assumptions like bigger
is better; you can't stop progress; no speed is too fast; globalization is
good. Then we have to replace them with some different assumptions:
small is beautiful; roots and traditions are worth preserving; variety is
the spice of life; the only work worth doing is meaningful work;
biodiversity is the necessary pre-condition for human survival”.
This PowerPoint Presentation is prepared by GEM Team
(courtesy: internet). Other GEM PowerPoint Presentations are:
Zero Garbage – Nobel for India!
Solar Energy
Junk Food – A slow poison
Twenty Tips To Save Nature
Plastic – a boon or bane?
Green Passion
Soft drink – A Health Hazard
Waste to energy
Rain Water Harvesting
Eco-friendly Religions
Climate Change
These PPTs may be downloaded from our website: – GEM section
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