Biodiversity


What is Biodiveristy ?bio-ppt-imgBiodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem,biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regionssupport fewer species.

Rapid environmental changes typically cause mass extinctions. One estimate is that less than 1% of the species that have existed onEarthare extant.

Since life began on Earth, five major mass extinctions and several minor events have led to large and sudden drops in biodiversity. The Phanerozoic eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity via the Cambrian explosion, a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared. The next 400 million years included repeated, massive biodiversity losses classified as mass extinction events. In the Carboniferous,rainforest collapse led to a great loss of plant and animal life. ThePermian–Triassic extinction event, 251 million years ago, was the worst; vertebrate recovery took 30 million years. The most recent, the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, occurred 65 million years ago, and has often attracted more attention than others because it resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The period since the emergence of humans has displayed an ongoing biodiversity reduction and an accompanying loss of genetic diversity. Named the Holocene extinction, the reduction is caused primarily by human impacts, particularly habitat destruction. Conversely, biodiversity impacts human health in a number of ways, both positively and negatively.

 

Ireland’s environment is, for the most part, very good and stands up well to comparison with any other country in Europe or in the wider world. This is due in no small way to an accident of geography and an accident of history.

Geography places Ireland at mid-latitude, not too close to the heat of the equator or to the cold arctic and its position on the north-western edge of the continent ensures a constant supply of clean unpolluted air and plenty of rain from the Atlantic Ocean.

History decreed that Ireland missed the industrial revolution of the 19th century and, so, missed out on the polluting industries of that period. Up to the middle of the 20th century Ireland’s economy was based on grassland agriculture which was not very intensive and placed little pressures on the Irish environment.

Much has changed in Ireland in the past 50 years, and the pressures on the environment have grown, but overall the essentials for life of clean air, clean water and productive soil are abundant on this island.

The different environmental sectors of air, water, land etc are discussed in more detail in this article.

 

Biodiversity, globally and in our own country, is going through a tough time and it is important to get informed about halting its decline, in order to keep our world healthy. Every single plant and animal is precious – destroying one can have a huge impact on the other plants and animals that might depend on it. Also don’t forget that biodiversity supplies eco-system services like clean air, food, textiles and medicines.

Some of Ireland’s diverse plants and animals are under threat because:

  • Many local species depend on woodland to survive – but Ireland has only 10% forest cover
  • Our coast is under pressure from property development, litter, pollution and over use by all of us
  • Bogs are disappearing with the use of peat as a fuel increasing.
  • Hedges are in danger from farmers clearing land
  • Invasive species are becoming more apparent on the island – like the grey squirrel which threatens the red squirrel’s survival
  • Intensive farming is an economically viable way to feed our world but it is at a cost to our biodiversity.