Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. The number of species of animals, plants and microorganisms, the enormous diversity of genes in these species, the different ecosystems such as rainforests, deserts and coral reefs are all part of a biologically diverse Earth.
It is estimated that there are between six to fifteen million species on Earth of which only 1.5 million have been identified and given scientific names. Between 1995 and 2004 361 new species were identified in the inland rainforests of Borneo.
Tropical forest canopies sustain 40% of all life on earth and all subsequent ecosystem services are a function of interactions between this life, the soil and the atmosphere. A healthy biodiversity provides a number of natural services for everyone - ecosystem services (such as protection of water resources, soils formation and protection, nutrient storage and recycling), biological resources (such as food, medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs, diversity in genes and species) and social benefits (such as research, education and monitoring, recreation and tourism).
In a recent report, “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers 2009”, TEEB provided the following example of sectors dependent on genetic resources:
The cost of replacing these (if possible) would be extremely expensive as shown above. Pollination services alone have been estimated to contribute US$12 billion per year to agriculture (GCP, 2011) and worth over $200 million to the world economy (Green Futures, 2011). It therefore makes economic and development sense to move towards sustainability.
Below is the image of workers in the Maoxian county of Sichuan, China, an area that has lost its pollinators through the indiscriminate use of pesticides and the over-harvesting of its honey. These workers aren't picking fruit, or digging, or planting. They're pollinating pear and apple trees by hand. In this part of China, the honeybee has been replaced by the human bee...