Why biodiversity is important to you: chapter 1

Understanding biodiversity

Spiderwebs in your backyard, birds at the local park, algae in lakes and oceans, worms in the soil, and the forests, plains and tundra found across the country -- this variety is biological diversity, also known as "biodiversity."

With its intricate web of life forms and habitats, our planet depends on biodiversity, defined as the variety of living species and ecosystems on Earth and the ecological processes of which they are part.

Did you know...

The United Nations declared 2011-2020 the International Decade of Biodiversity.

Why is biodiversity so important? The answer is simple. We all want to continue living in a country where we can watch birds, go fishing, walk in nature, swim in lakes and rivers, and do all the activities that take us outdoors while enjoying fresh air and clean water. The diversity of life is essential for us to enjoy these simple pleasures.

Examples of nature at work can be found everywhere: the process by which plants filter carbon dioxide and produce oxygen for us to breathe; the naturally occurring filtering of drinking water; the species responsible for enriching the soil in which we grow food; the pollination of plants that enables new seeds to grow; the role of oceans in the regulation of our climate. Biological diversity is vital to maintaining life on Earth and to ensuring a clean, safe and sustainable environment.

Habitat loss, the spread of non-native species, climate change, pollution and overconsumption all contribute to a decline in the variety of living species and threaten nature as we know it. It is a good thing that Canadians and other people around the world are recognizing this issue and are taking action.

Did you know...

More than 100 000 trees have been planted in Canada under the Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign and over 60 Green Wave events took place in 2010 where trees were planted. For more information on the United Nations Environment Programme, visit United Nations Environment Programme and Green Wave initiative websites.

Fast fact

Over 70 000 species of plants and animals have been identified in Canada, and countless numbers remain to be discovered.

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