(Adopted from IUCN international, Available at
Biodiversity is the foundation of life on Earth. It is crucial for
the functioning of ecosystems which provide us with products and
services without which we couldn’t live. Oxygen, food, fresh water,
fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods,
stable climate and recreation - all have their source in nature and
healthy ecosystems. But biodiversity gives us much more than this.
We depend on it for our security and health; it strongly affects our
social relations and gives us freedom and choice.
Biodiversity is extremely complex, dynamic and varied like no other
feature of the Earth. Its innumerable plants, animals and microbes
physically and chemically unite the atmosphere (the mixture of gases
around the Earth), geosphere (the solid part of the Earth), and
hydrosphere (the Earth's water, ice and water vapour) into one
environmental system which makes it possible for millions of
species, including people, to exist.
the same time, no other feature of the Earth has been so
dramatically influenced by man’s activities. By changing
biodiversity, we strongly affect human well-being and the well-being
of every other living creature.
Biodiversity is everywhere. It occurs both on land and in water,
from high altitudes to deep ocean trenches and it includes all
organisms, from microscopic bacteria to more complex plants.
Although many tools and data sources have been developed,
biodiversity remains difficult to measure precisely. According to
the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, the total number of species on
Earth ranges from five to 30 million and only 1.7–2 million species
have been formally identified.
we do not need precise figures and answers to devise an effective
understanding of where biodiversity is, how it is changing over
space and time, what are the drivers responsible for this change,
its consequences for ecosystem services and human well-being, and
the available response options.
There are many measures of biodiversity. Species richness (the
number of species in a given area) represents a single but important
metric that is valuable as the common currency of the diversity of
life—but to fully capture biodiversity, it must be integrated with
has access to many different kinds of information on species.
The Red List of
provides global assessments of the conservation status of species.
The IUCN Species Survival Commission, together with the Species
Programme and their partners have developed a number of approaches
to build up a comprehensive picture of the status and trends in
species and biodiversity at global, regional and national levels.
Unlike foods and other products that we buy in supermarkets, many
ecosystem services have no price tag attached to them. This means
that the importance of biodiversity and natural processes in
providing benefits to people is ignored by financial markets. If the
full economic value of these services was taken into account in
decision-making, the degradation of ecosystem services could be
significantly slowed down or even reversed.