What is biodiversity?

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Photo: Iwokrama Centre (ICRFDC)

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety of genetic material, species and ecosystems found in nature.

Some species, like gorillas, have won our hearts and minds simply for their grace and beauty. Countless less-charismatic species – many too tiny to see – provide services we need for our well-being. Collectively, biodiversity stabilises our atmosphere and climate, protects water catchments and renews the soil. It also helps keep ecosystems 'adaptable', should environmental conditions change abruptly.

The diversity of nature is the foundation of the world's material wealth. From biodiversity we develop food crops and derive the raw inputs and genetic materials for industry, agriculture and medicine. These benefits are worth many billions of dollars each year, and people spend further billions to appreciate nature and its diversity through tourism and recreation.


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