What is Biodiversity?
Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety
of life forms, the ecological roles they perform, and the genetic diversity
they contain. It is an umbrella term used to describe the total variety
of life on earth, encompassing both the number and frequency of genes, species,
or ecosystems in a given assemblage. It has become widespread practice to
define biodiversity in terms of genes, species, and ecosystems, corresponding
to three fundamental and hierarchically-related levels of biological organization.
Species diversity - fauna and flora
Species diversity is about the variety of living organisms on earth. It is
measured by the total number of species in a given area of study. The species
level is generally regarded as the most natural one at which to consider whole-organism
diversity, being the primary focus of evolutionary mechanisms.
Species is a group of organisms which are able to interbreed freely and produce
a fertile offspring. One species do not interbreed freely with other species.
Species diversity can be measured by species richness, number of species in
a given area. Species diversity is the main parameter to express the biodiversity
in an area.
It is estimated that there are about 30 million species in the world. However
only 1.3 million species were found in the world. The species is the definitive,
recognizable natural unit that constitutes biodiversity.
Genetic (gene) diversity
Genetic diversity concerns the range of genetic material in living organisms,
the variability in a species. It is measured by the variation in genes, the
chemical units of hereditary information passed from one generation to the
Genetic diversity is the diversity that can be found within a species.
Ecosystem diversity concerns the variety of ecological complexes (habitats)
in which species occur. Their health is crucial to the well-being and survival
of the species which they support. Ecosystem diversity is more difficult to
assess because there is no unique definition and classification at the global
level. Moreover, unlike genes and species, ecosystems include abiotic components,
as they are partly determined by soil parent material and climate.
Ecosystem is a functioning unit consists of living and non living components,
where community of living organisms interact with non-living factors of the
Conservation is the management of human use of the biosphere so
that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations
while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future
generations (IUCN, 1980). The term, as used in this chapter, is not restricted
to preservation but encompasses wise use, which contributes to development.
Conservation of biodiversity ensures that present and future options for
its wise use are maintained, and that the biosphere is kept in a state supportive
of human life.
A protected area is an area of land (and/or sea) especially dedicated
to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural
and cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means
(IUCN, 1994). In practice, protected areas are managed for a wide variety
of purposes which may include:
. Scientific research
. Wilderness protection
. Preservation of species and ecosystems
. Maintenance of environmental services
. Protection of specific natural and cultural features
. Tourism and recreation
. Sustainable use of resources from natural ecosystems,
including for example medicinal plants
. Maintenance of cultural and traditional attributes