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ENSC3013 Assignment 7

Kirsten McKenzie _20876622

The importance of biodiversity for human well-being


Biodiversity (biological diversity) refers to the variety, number, abundance, composition, spatial distribution, interactions and functional traits of all life forms on earth (Diaz, Fargione, Capin & Tilman 2006). It encompasses: genetic diversity and species diversity of plants, animals and microorganisms as well as ecosystem diversity, which is the variety of habitats, ecological communities and ecological processes (Ministerial Council 2010). Biodiversity is dynamic; it is amplified by evolutionary processes and curtailed by threats and pressures on the natural environment the latter of which humans are increasingly responsible.

The importance of biodiversity can be described to by its and

capacity

influence

support ecosystem services and the long-term provision of them as shown in figure 1.

Ecosystem services can be thought of as biological life support systems, which are fundamental to human

physical, social, cultural and economic well-being.

Biodiversity ecosystem primary provision, atmospheric services production, nutrient

supports through habitat cycling, oxygen FIGURE 1: THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN BIODIVERSITY AND HUMAN WELL-BEING (S DAZ, 2006)

production and soil formation and retention.

ENSC3013 Assignment 7

Kirsten McKenzie _20876622

Ecosystem services provide raw material such as food, fibre, fuel, and fresh water and play a regulatory role in the environment including services such as pollination, seed dispersal, climate regulation, pest and disease control, water purification, carbon sequestration and flood control. A large number of resident species within a functional group can act as safeguard to functionality of ecosystem processes and services under changing threats and pressures. Therefore a healthy level of biodiversity results in the resilience of ecosystems (Ministerial Council 2010). This directly emphasizes the importance of biodiversity to the physical well being of humans. Although some components are more important than others and it is functional composition of biodiversity that appears to cause the on many ecosystem services rather than the number of species present (Diaz, Fargione, Capin & Tilman 2006).

The benefits obtained by humans from ecosystem services are context dependent for example in Western countries forestry, agriculture and fishing form a vital industry, which lead to many others such as food production, manufacturing, retail and other services. Biodiversity is therefore responsible for a large portion of GDP. A higher GDP per capita can be seen as an indicator of a higher standard or living, which leads to social well being. Another economic influence is the regulatory effect of biodiversity; pollination leads back to the food industry and water filtration, pest and disease control and flood control reduce the need for human intervention. The impact on infrastructure and thus the expense and despair brought on by floods is greatly reduced. In poorer less developed countries nature is directly relied on far more for survival and the effects of biodiversity loss are felt more.

Lastly the joy derived by humans from the variety and natural beauty in the world is immense, not only have we learnt a significant amount from nature and the complexity of the processes it performs which has lead us to use their designs to solve human problems (biomimicary), the recreational, spiritual and aesthetic benefits are immeasurable. References
Daz,S, Fargione, J, Chapin,S & Tilman,D 2006. Biodiversity Loss Threatens Human WellBeing. PLoS Biology, vol.4, no 8 [16 May 2013] Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council 2010, Australias Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010 2030. Government, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra. [16 May 2013]