Biodiversity What is it Why is it important What can we do

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          What is it?
      Why is it important?
       What can we do?

            Anja Murray
An Taisce- The National Trust of Ireland
         What is Biodiversity?

Biological diversity means the variability
  among living organisms from all sources,
  including, terrestrial, marine, and other
  aquatic ecosystems

and the ecological complexes of which they
  are part,
• diversity of individuals within a
  species (genetic diversity)

• diversity of species within an
  ecosystem or habitat (species

• diversity of ecosystems and
  habitats (habitat diversity).
          Why is it important?!
• Biodiversity has an Intrinsic Value that is worth
  protecting regardless of its value to humans

• Biodiversity performs a number of ecological
  services to humankind that have economic,
  aesthetic or recreational value
         Why is it important?
• Biodiversity is the Basis of our existence!
        - Our life support system
• Air, water, food, shelter
• Diversity of trees / plants / micro-organisms
  - each specifically adapted to its particular
 Provision of Natural Resources
• domesticated agricultural crops

• medicines that protect and cure us

• textiles – cotton, linnen, hemp

• wood
            Marine and freshwater
               food resources

25% of all fish stocks are endangered, species as cod,
  halibut and haddock are massively threatened
        Ecosystem Services
•   Regulates our climate
•   Buffers against flooding
•   Filters water
•   Breaks down wastes and recycle nutrients
•   Provides natural resources
   Water filtration & flood protection
• Wetlands are buffers
  against flooding

• Trees and their roots
  maximize infiltration of
  water in to the ground

• upland peat bogs act like
  – preventing flooding
         Biodiversity, Soil, & food
• Plant roots break up rock to create soil particles
• earthworms, mites, insects and millipedes help give soil its
  texture and fertility and are crucial to its aeration
• Tiny soil microorganisms and fungi process essential nutrients
  like nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur and make them available to
  higher plants
• A gram of fertile agricultural soil may contain 2.5 billion
  bacteria, 400 000 fungi, 50 000 algae and 30 000 protozoa.
           Biodiversity and health
• Clean air and water - essential to human health
• Plant extracts and derivatives - the basis of most

Diversity of life forms is nature‟s way of keeping
  important checks and balances in place, keeping
  populations of disease-causing pests and viruses in
                 Biodiversity Loss
• Deforestation world wide - 13
   million hectares annualy
• Destruction or conversion of
   virgin forests (36% of all
   forests) 6 million hectares

• 80% of the Caribbean coral
  reefs are destroyed (IUCN).
Can any civilization wage relentless war on life without
   destroying itself and without losing the right to be
                     called civilized?
                                          Rachel Carson
          Biodiversity Loss
Ireland is no exception

• habitat destruction, such as wetland drainage
  and infilling;
• water pollution;
• invasive alien species;
• unsustainable and excessive consumption;
Ireland has committed
to the Convention on
Biological Diversity‟s
target of „Halting the
loss of biodiversity by
        How can we achieve this?
Cornerstones of realizing our commitments:

• The Habitats Directive
  The Birds Directive
• EC Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
• Water Framework Directive (WFD)

  – Full and timely implementation
  Climate change as a new threat
species and natural systems are now faced with the need to
   adapt to new regimes of temperature, precipitation and
   other climatic extremes
• Driest April on record- gorse fires reported in across
   Ireland –impact on our nesting birds?
  Climate change and Biodiversity
Stern Review:
• 1oC warming – at least 10% of land species
  could face extinction
• 2oC warming – at least 15-40% of land
  species could face extinction
• 3oC warming – at least 20-50% of land
  species could face extinction
IPCC have warned of 3.6 oC rise in temps
             Immediate Risk
Polar Bears at immediate
  risk of extinction
        Ireland and Global Biodiversity
Biodiversity Loss contributes to climate change –
Ireland is responsible for the import of tens of
   thousands of m2 of illegally felled tropical timber
   each year

garden furniture, decking, flooring, palm oil, soy feed
  for cattle
              What can we do?
Protecting our home, the Earth,
  begins with understanding our
  personal and collective impact
  upon it
       Reducing our Footprint
Develop a sustainable hardwood industry

More economically and environmentally viable
• Ecological Footprint
   – land area used up for current
     levels of resource consumption
     and waste discharge

• Currently1.8 hectares per person –
  “a fair earth share”.

• Our footprint in Ireland is about 3.5
  times larger than this “fair earth
            Lifestyle choices
•   Meat....
•   Other foods
•   Chemicals in the home
•   Timber products
•   General consumption
               An Taisce &
         the Natural Environment

Advocate the need to
 protect the natural
 resources and
 ecosystems upon
 which we depend:
 biodiversity, clean air
 & water
                  An Taisce
• Independent monitor - unique insight

• Provide assistance and respond to instances of
  serious and often illegal environmental
  degradation throughout the country

• instigating changes that are needed to minimise
  and control damage to our natural heritage
       What else can WE do?

• Get to know your locality
• Stay informed of the issues
• Be PROACTIVE – (not Reactive)
• Write to your local reps
  – Create a political mandate
• Bring people on board – not alienate them!