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Humans and other species


The Earth is populated by an incredible number of different

living creatures. The term that is used to define this crowd
of organisms that populate every corner of the Planet, and
that have adapted even to the most extreme environments,
is biodiversity or biological diversity. Biodiversity measures
the variety of animal and vegetable species in the biosphere
and is the result of long evaluative processes. The elements
that make up biodiversity can be subdivided into three
different levels:

Genetic level

Species level

Ecosystem level


Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each

species, no matter how small, all have an important role to

For example, a larger number of plant species means a

greater variety of crops; greater species diversity ensures
natural sustainability for all life forms; and healthy
ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety
of disasters.
And so, while we dominate this planet, we still need to
preserve the diversity in wildlife.


The diminishing of the Earth's biological diversity has

consequences far more profound than other, sometimes
more widely recognized, environmental dilemmas. Because
the loss is irreversiblespecies that are lost are lost
foreverthe potential impact on the human condition, on the
fabric of the Earth's living systems, and on the process of
evolution is immense.


Maintaining biodiversity is essential for organic waste

disposal, soil formation, biological nitrogen fixation,
crop and livestock genetics, biological pest control,
plant pollination, and pharmaceuticals. Plants and
microbes help to degrade chemical pollutants and
organic wastes and cycle nutrients through the

Pollinators, including bees and butterflies, provide

significant environmental and economic benefits to
agricultural and natural ecosystems, including adding
diversity and productivity to food crops.
The development of natural lands, are causing a
species extinction rate of 1,000 to 10,000 times the
natural rate. The authors estimate that in the United
States, biodiversity provides a total of $319 billion
dollars in annual benefits and $2,928 billion in annual
benefits worldwide (1997 calculation)


Difficulties in measuring biodiversity have complicated

assessments of the impact of response strategies.

Measures to reduce the rate of global biodiversity loss also

generate substantial negative consequences. Achieving
sustainable fishery, for example, would require years of
large limitations put on catches, which, in turn, would have
an enormous impact on the livelihoods of fishermen the
world over. Sustainable agricultural methods demand large
investments, causing higher agricultural prices.