Conserving biodiversity


Importance of biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of plants, animals and other living creatures on Earth. From the smallest micro-organism to the largest mammal, biodiversity forms a web of life, creating the ecosystems we live in and depend upon for our survival, and supplying us with food, water, medicine and many other vital ecological services.

Biodiversity is being lost at alarming rates - between 1,000 and 10,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, owing to problems such as habitat destruction and climate change.  A broad range of ecosystem services are degraded as a result. The loss of biodiversity has devastating effects on local and indigenous communities around the world who depend on it for their livelihoods.  We have to respect biodiversity, and this means respecting flora and fauna, and also respecting people.  Consider that:

  • 7,000 plants species are consumed by humans as food
  • 17% of plant species are used for medicinal purposes
  • 70% of the world's poor live in rural areas and depend on biodiversity for their survival

Companies can contribute to biodiversity conservation

Through their sourcing practices, companies can support biodiversity conservation and demonstrate how biodiversity-based products can be sustainably used. The Ethical BioTrade Standard describes practices to this end. For example:

  • Practices that reduce biodiversity loss, such as restrictions on forest clearing for cultivation or collection activities, protection of endangered species, and strict rules around the use of agrochemicals.
  • Practices that enhance biodiversity protection or enrichment, such as flower strips, hedges, projects to protect pollinators, organic practices, and other contributions to natural ecosystems.
Interested in learning more? Have a look at the following briefings:
Guardian: The briefing What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
WWF:  Biodiversity.