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11.4. Actions that favor the conservation of the environment

The value of biodiversity

The biodiversity (or biological diversity) is the variety of species living in the earth or in a particular ecosystem.
The current biodiversity that exists on Earth is the result of millions of years of evolution of living beings that have adapted to the environmental conditions of the different ecosystems.
Biodiversity is very important for two fundamental reasons:

Biodiversity, source of resources

There are many benefits that people obtain from the wide variety of living beings:

  • Medicines. Many medicines are obtained from living things, for example, some antibiotics that are obtained from fungi. If we have a wide biodiversity, it is more likely that a drug will be found to cure a disease that currently has no cure.
  • Raw material. Wood can be extracted from forests to obtain cellulose for paper, etc., from sheep, wool, etc.
  • FoodLivestock, agriculture, and fishing allow us to get food.
  • Sightseeing. Landscapes and nature are a source of business for some and of well-being and enjoyment for others.
  • Energy. Some living things can be used as energy sources.

Biodiversity, ecological importance

Although the resources offered by biodiversity to humanity are important , its main value is its ecological importance in maintaining the balance of the planet.

  • The existence of some animals depends, in turn, on the existence of some plants, and vice versa. If one species disappears, so does the other.
  • All populations in an ecosystem are related. If a species disappears, the entire ecosystem can be altered.
  • Plants capture carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, necessary for the respiration of heterotrophs. In addition, by removing carbon dioxide, they help reduce pollution.
  • Endemic species of plants and animals are part of people's heritage, since in addition to cultural value, they provide economic and aesthetic benefits.

Causes of biodiversity loss

The development of technology and the way of life of today's society is leading to a continuous loss of biodiversity. The main causes of biodiversity loss are:

  • Destruction of habitats. Space and raw material are needed and ecosystems are destroyed, many species disappearing.
  • Industrial development, which pollutes our planet more every day. Pollution of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the soil harms biodiversity. In addition, acid rain, or global warming also alters ecosystems.
  • Urban growth, which destroys natural ecosystems to expand cities, roads or leisure areas.
  • Overpopulation.
  • Indiscriminate hunting or fishing.
  • Introduction of exotic species, with serious consequences for native species.

Although there have always been species extinctions, it has been due to environmental changes, such as the disappearance of the dinosaurs. But now, they are disappearing due to human action and, if we do not act quickly, it can have serious consequences for our planet and for those of us who inhabit it.

Procambarus clarkii o cangrejo rojo o cangrejo americano de ríoProcambarus clarkii or red crab or American river crab is an invasive species in the rivers of Spain and harms the native fauna.