|Basic Concepts in Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Management: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1993, 151 p.)|
What is biological diversity?
Biological diversity refers to the variety of life forms found on earth, their genetic-constitution of the - ecosystem and ecological processes of which they are a part. Biological diversity is usually considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.
Genetic diversity - refers to the sum total of heritable traits/characteristics contained in the genes of each living organism. This diversity is found within species and is the reason why no two individuals are identical
Species diversity - refers to all species of plants, animals and microorganisms. This diversity refers to the variety of different species within a given ecosystem.
Ecosystem diversity - refers to the variety of habitats, biotic' communities and ecological processes, as well as to differences in habitat and ecological processes found within each ecosystem. This diversity refers to variation within and among ecosystems.
What are wildlife?
Wildlife are plants and animals found in their natural habitat undisturbed by man or free from human' interference. They constitute flora (plants) and fauna (animals) not domesticated and which are free-ranging in their naturally associated habitats.
What is wildlife conservation?
Wildlife conservation is action to increase, maintain and protect existing wildlife population for their economic, ecological; scientific, educational and cultural importance. Wildlife conservation programs include the enforcement of the regulation of trade on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna. This is achieved through the issuance of permits in the exportation of wild flora and fauna and the enforcement of the regulation against gathering and transporting wildlife- species.
Also included in this process is the capture, banding and release of migratory birds as well as the monitoring of activities of wildlife forms, petshops, nurseries and the status of wild plants.
Value and/or importance of biological diversity
Biological resources provide products which people depend on for health and well-being.
· Economic value. Many wildlife species offer high potentials for saving money and generating income. Food, like fruits of trees, fishes, insects and snails, are sources of protein.
· Biomedical value. Many wildlife species are used for medical researches and formulation of medicines.
· Ecological value. Wildlife plays an important role in the essential life processes that are carried out by nature, Birds, for example, serve as excellent monitors for the environment. 'The presence of certain birds can indicate the health of a given ecosystem. But, if birds are declining in: number and fail to breed successfully, the environment is unhealthy. Birds and insects help in the pollination of flowers and seed dispersal, thus, keeping the environment healthy and productive. Birds of prey keep clown to a desirable level the population of pests and diseases harmful to agricultural crops.
Social and cultural
· Aesthetic and recreational value. Wild plants and animals are sources of inspiration to people, especially to photographers, artists and painters, because of their beauty and wonder.
· Cultural value. Many species of plants and animals are found only in the Philippines. This serves as a source of identity and pride to most indigenous groups. They also serve as a symbol of cultural and national heritage.
· Ethical value. Many people attach feelings of sympathy, responsibility and concern towards wildlife species and the environment. Many argue that all species have their own intrinsic value and, therefore, right to exist.
What are the major threats' to biological diversify?
· Habitat loss or conversion. Related to land use changes that involve great reduction in the area of natural vegetation. This means reduction in the population of species with a resulting loss to genetic diversity and an increase in vulnerability of species and population to diseases, hunting and random population changes.
· Overexploitation. The exploitation of resources at an uncontrolled rate that cannot sustain the natural reproductive capacity of the population being harvested.
· Pollution of air, soil and water. This can lead to the destruction or death of ecosystems and habitats.
· Climatic changes. Alterations in earth's atmosphere 'from human activities may lead to unpredictable changes in climate.
· Introduced species. Non-native species which have replaced the original species of certain plants and animals. Some are responsible for the decline of certain wildlife due to predation, acquired diseases or competition.
· Human population increase. Given a limited resource base, increasing numbers of people result in fewer resources per person and greater waste per unit area.