By Muzamil Arif
The word, “Biodiversity”, is combination of two words, “Bio” means life and “diversity” means variety. As a result, biodiversity is a variety of various living organisms found on earth and they are interdependent and interact with each other in their ecosystem or habitat.Living organisms include humans, animals, microorganisms, aquatic animals, birds, trees, plants, etc. Biodiversity is very important for all living organisms to survive and thrive on earth.Biodiversity is not distributed equally on earth and it is known that they are richest in the tropics.Only 10% of the earth’ s surface is covered with tropical forests and almost 90% of the earth’s is species is are found here. The various species of plants and animals present on Earth are not distributed evenly. The main reason for this uneven distribution is the climatic conditions of our planet. The climate varies highly in different parts of the world and thus there is a variation in the kind of life present in each part. The climatic conditions have undergone a major change over the last few decades and this has led to a decline in biodiversity. The growing imbalance can cause a threat to the mankind as well.It is essential to ensure richness of biodiversity by controlling pollution and building an environment that is safe and secure for all the organisms living on the planet.
There are thousands of species today that are endemic to specific regions in the world, which means that if the ecosystems in those regions cease to exist, these species of flora and fauna will, too. For example, the lemurs of Madagascar are endemic to Madagascar. Due to human-made circumstances, ecosystems are being destroyed, resulting in endemic species being put under the category of endangered. Endangered species are those on the verge of extinction, more often than not, due to unnecessary human activities. The Bengal tiger is endangered, and dodo birds have been extinct for centuries now. Another word for Conservation of Biodiversity is caring for the environment. It is estimated that the current rate of species extinction is between 1,000 and 100,000 times more rapid than the average rate during the last several billion years. The growth of human populations, consumption levels, and mobility is the root of most of the serious threats to biodiversity today.
THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY
There are certain threats to the biodiversity that is responsible for the extinction of certain species and ecosystems. Threat like, high population rate, pollution, natural disasters, deforestation, exotic species, illegal hunting,destruction of habitats, Desertification, etc. The various threats to biodiversity are generalized into two different categories namely: Direct drivers and indirect drivers.
DIRECT DRIVERS:- Direct drivers include land use change, habitat destruction, climate change, invasion of exotic species, overexploitation of natural resources and environment pollution.
INDIRECT DRIVERS:-Indirect drivers include increasing human population, and lifestyle that influence direct drivers.
1:- DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL HABITATS:-Habitat destruction is the major cause for biodiversity loss. About 73% of biodiversity is lost due to habitat destruction. Increase of population has lead to increased demand for more land resources for agriculture, industries, and habitation. Land is limited resource and this increased demand for it is fulfilled by clearing forests. Forest harbour rich biodiversity in the form of variety of trees and animals present in them and their destruction causes loss of habitat. Pollution of water bodies, both fresh and marine leads to degradation of habitat for aquatic animals. Deforestation and forest fires, wet-lands stuffing and drainage of water, use of natural areas for agriculture or industry, human settlements, mining, construction and other developmental projects are the cause of habitat destruction. In this way the natural habitats of the organisms have been changed or destroyed. Due to these changes, the species either die or killed. In addition to the direct damage of the species during development related activities, the new environment is unsuitable for the survival of the species. Over-exploitation reduces the population size of the species and forces them to go extinct.
2:-DESERTIFICATION AND DEFORESTATION:- Desertification and deforestation are the main causes of biodiversity loss. Both processes are decisively influenced by the extension of agriculture. The direct cost of deforestation is reflected in the loss of valuable plants and animal species. Desertification process is the result of poor land management which can be aggravated by climatic variations. Converting wild lands to agriculture often involves ploughing the soils which leads in temperate regions to an average decline in soil organic matter between 25 and 40 per cent over twenty five years.Decreasing soil organic matter is always a clear indication of soil degradation, and often is accompanied by reductions in water infiltration, fertility, and ability to retain fertilizers. Ploughing also exposes soils to wind and water erosion, resulting in large-scale pollution of freshwater resources.Approximately 80% of animals and plants live in forests and 25% of the world’s people rely on forests for food, medicine, fuel and shelter and their livelihoods. But deforestation and associated habitat loss is a direct cause of extinction and loss of biodiversity. In 2017, Global Forest Watch estimated that 29.4m hectares of forest was lost across the globe. Not only is critical forest habitat being lost, but deforestation is contributing to 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
3:- ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION:- Environmental pollution is another serious threat to the biodiversity of a region. Pollution can come in many forms, water pollution, air pollution, soil pollution, etc. all having its own causes and consequences. Pollution today has become the most immediate threat to the biodiversity and the life that it sustains. It threatens every form of life over the affected area. Also, pollution has become a global concern, threatening large biodiversity reserves on the planet. If the pollution isn’t contained effectively then it would be difficult to save the biodiversity
4:-INTRODUCTION OF ALIEN INVASIVE SPECIES:- Alien species are those species which are present in a geographical region where they are not naturally present and are non native. These alien species compete for resources and may lead to elimination of local native species. The alien species are also sometimes termed as biological pollutants. Examples of some alien species common in India are parthenium sp. (Congress grass) and Lantana camara.
5:- POACHING OF WILDLIFE:-Poaching is the hunting of wildlife for their commercial trade in markets. Poaching is illegal but still carried out because of the high demand and value of various animals parts like ivory, rhinoceros horn, hides, skins, antlers, meat etc. Studies have shown that poaching is the second biggest threat to species diversity after habitat destruction.
6:- OVER-EXPLOITATION OF BIO RESOURCES:-Bio resources is mostly overexploited because of the commercialisation of various associated with these resources. Various species of plant which have medicinal values are over exploited which cause them to become endangered or even extinct. Examples includes Trilidium govanianum(“Nagchatri”) which is over exploited for its medicinal values and now it is having threatened species.
7:- ROADS AND RAILWAYS:- Construction of roads and railway lines through a forest area is very common and also one of the prime reasons for the loss of biodiversity. Both are big projects requiring clearing off a large area of forest land. Moreover, regular transport through these modes also disturbs the area’s biodiversity.
8:-DISEASES AND EPIDEMICS:-The spread of disease in animals, birds and plants also leads due to loss of biological diversity. In the Kashmir valley, many poplar trees and Sal and teak trees on the Chhotanagpur plateau have destroyed many forests and biological diversity is changing.
9:- TRADE IN WILD SOECIES:-Many traders selling pets, dogs, cats, sparrows, fish, etc. also decrease the biological diversity. They illegally kill the animals for their individual profit. The skin, bones, blood and other parts are used in making various kinds of medicines and vaccines.
10:- HUMAN OVERPOPULATION:-Human overpopulation has increased to a extent where it has influenced direct factor putting pressure on biodiversity and leading to loss of biodiversity.
Most biodiversity resources are consumed by humans, so it is their primary responsibility to preserve and protect biodiversity to protect the earth. The richness of the species, the ecosystem, the environment and the sustainable growth of life on earth is important. Biodiversity conservation is very important for the sustainability of a healthier land by preserving and protecting species, ecosystems and natural resources. Enforcement of law can help to save some rare species.
Writer Muzamil Arif BSc Student form Govt Degree College Bhaderwah Email:- firstname.lastname@example.org