The United Nations has named May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity! But why does biodiversity matter, and what does it mean for you?
At the highest level, biodiversity refers to all the different species on planet Earth. But on a much smaller scale, you could study the biodiversity within a local ecosystem, like the Santa Monica Mountains, the LA River or a neighborhood park.
The Earth is an incredibly complex machine, with all its interrelated organisms and ecosystems playing an important and necessary part. If a lot of those parts suddenly disappear, then the machine can’t function properly. And each species—from the lowliest microbe all the way up to humans—is necessary to keep the planet running smoothly.
To celebrate The International Day for Biological Diversity, we’re getting the word out! Read on to find out 5 ways biodiversity benefits you today and every day.
Without a diversity of pollinators, plants, and soils, our supermarkets would have a lot less produce. Millions of plant and animal species all work together to provide us with countless varieties of food and other products, that we use every day. Biodiversity is what gives us so many options.
Most medical discoveries were made because of the research into plant and animal biology and genetics. Every time a species goes extinct we lose out on research that may have given us a new vaccine or drug that could lengthen our lifespan and improve our quality of life.
Biodiversity is essential to make life livable on Earth. Biodiversity offers something called “ecoservices” which include everything from water filtration and absorbing chemicals, to providing oxygen for us to breathe—one of the many things trees and other plants provide.
Biodiversity allows the environment to adjust to changing conditions. If a bird species goes extinct, a forest with 20 other kinds of birds is likely to adapt better than another forest with only one kind. Genetic diversity also prevents the spread of disease and helps species adjust to disturbances like extreme fires and floods.
Biodiversity is beautiful. An impressive 1.2 million species are officially registered in the Catalogue of Life and the World Register of Marine Species, a diverse rainbow of plants, animals, algaes and other organisms essential to the functioning of our global ecosystem. Can you imagine anything more beautiful and inspiring than the vast spectrum of life that exists on Earth?
You can do your part to protect the world’s biodiversity by pitching in at one of our events. Protect wildlife habitat in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Angeles Forest in your own backyard, or see our calendar for other ways to care for our urban ecosystem.