What is biodiversity?

What is biodiversity?


Janez Potočnik
European Commissioner for the Environment in 2009 wrote in the preface to 52 tips for biodiversity:

Biodiversity, or the variety of life on Earth, makes our planet beautiful and habitable. For many, the natural environment is a source of pleasure, inspiration and recreation, but we all depend on it for food, energy, raw materials, air and water, elements that literally allow us to live and they are the engine of our economies. Yet despite its unique value, we often take nature for granted. The pressure we exert on many natural systems increases continuously and prevents them from functioning at their best, sometimes even bringing them to the brink of collapse. Loss of biodiversity is all too common.

For this reason, the European Union has committed to arrest it and in the last 25 years it has created a network of 26,000 protected areas within its borders, for a total of over 850,000 km2. Natura2000, this is its name, is the largest network of protected areas in the world, a testimony of how important biodiversity is for us. Now, we are determined to strengthen this program of epochal significance with further long-term measures.

Each of us can do something: in fact, we all have the possibility and responsibility to contribute to safeguarding biodiversity by making small changes to our daily habits, without necessarily having to upset our lifestyle. Taken together, these changes carry a lot of weight.

We hope the tips in this guide will help you make a difference. Consume local and seasonal products, avoid wasting water, compost food waste, learn more about the animal and plant species that populate the area we live in … if we all adopted even just some of these simple tips, we would contribute significantly to preserve natural resources for future generations.

WBA in collaboration with WWF Italy on the occasion of the world day for wetlands, which officially falls tomorrow, February 2, 2018, organizes a day of excursions in two oases, for more details see Discovering the biodiversity of the wetlands of Veneto.

The original work consists of almost 70 pages, the publication was written by Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique de Belgique in the French and Dutch versions. The original version of the work was published in 2009, as part of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, with the title “366 gestes pour la biodiversité”.


Below we report 3 key concepts urging our dear readers, associates and friends, to browse and disseminate what is suggested in the document on school teaching or family occasions. We are sure that for many they are already daily habits, for all the others we hope that they are food for thought to change by fully enjoying the wonders of the Earth.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity surrounds us. And we are also part of it. Its main elements are:

  1. the different species that live on Earth (animals, plants, mushrooms, algae, bacteria and even viruses);
  2. the differences between individuals of the same species (dimensions, shapes and / or colors);
  3. the numerous ecosystems (for example, oceans, forests or coral reefs), the species that inhabit them and the interactions that develop.

Scientists have cataloged about 1,900,000 different living species on Earth, but in all likelihood their number is significantly higher: many creatures are microscopic or live in the depths of the earth or oceans, others simply have not yet been discovered.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity, the result of 3 billion and 800 million years of evolution, is essential for human survival. We depend on nature for many basic resources, including food, building materials, heating, textile fibers and active ingredients in medicines. In addition, nature provides other vital functions, from pollination of plants to purification of air, water and soil to protection from floods.

Life on Earth, as we know it, would be impossible without these fundamental materials and these essential services. Unfortunately, however, we very often forget what nature does for us: in our industrialized societies, biodiversity is in fact taken for granted, considered something free and eternal.

The reality, however, is that the pressures we exert on nature are increasing and that many human activities represent a serious threat to the existence of many species. The list of such pressures is long and includes habitat destruction and fragmentation, pollution of air, water and soil, overfishing, overexploitation of resources, forests and land, introduction of non-native species and the emission of increasing amounts of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

What can we do to protect biodiversity?

This booklet presents you 52 tips (one for each week of the year) that will help you make a difference, including:

  • Practical advice to be taken every day
  • Ideas for raising awareness in the community
  • Tips to aid research by observing and cataloging wild flora and fauna and ecosystems
  • Sustainable techniques for gardening
  • Building and do-it-yourself projects

For more information on biodiversity: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/index_en.htm

To stay updated on our activities, follow us on social networks or subscribe to the newsletter. If you want to become an active member of WBA at the bottom of the page you will find all the references. If you have children next Sunday we will be on excursion both in the morning and in the afternoon!

You can also read  Discovering the biodiversity of the wetlands of Veneto or discover our campaign Take us to Cuba!