Conservation of Biodiversity for Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words “biological” and “diversity. In short, bio means life, and diversity means a range of different things – and simply biodiversity means “A Diversity of Life”. It is a combination of all lives that are found on Earth (plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms) and the communities they form and the habitats in which they live. The biodiversity we experience today is the result of billions of years’ evolution shaped by natural processes, and the influence of human beings and their web of life. Basically, biodiversity provides a large number of goods and services that sustain all lives on earth, since biological resources are the pillars in which civilizations are built upon. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the formal definition of biodiversity is: “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter-alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.
The value of biodiversity
Biodiversity is the foundation for sustainable development. Throughout history healthy ecosystem have been resilient to adapt to gradual environmental change; but the varied natural services are impossible to replace, because ecosystems continuously provide essential services by securing earth’s variety of life and contribute to human well-being. The loss of biodiversity threatens food supplies, sources of wood, medicines, energy, and opportunities for recreation, tourism, and other essential ecological functions. Biodiversity plays a major role in agriculture, forestry, wildlife and also urban development. Therefore, conservation of biodiversity is necessary to challenge population and economic growths that causes habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, introduction of invasive species, environmental pollution, soil erosion, over-exploitation of resources over-harvesting, and nutrient loss in soils. There is no clear blueprint for effective protection that could be implemented immediately for protection of biodiversity, but people should understand that a focus on economic arguments will not help to save the natural resources or ecosystems. The transition to sustainability is not easy, but it is central to securing a future for biodiversity.
Challenges for Biodiversity Conservation
Tropical forests disappear every minute. Many species of animals and plants are at risk of extinction at alarming rates mainly because of the destruction of natural environments. These losses, and increasing numbers of endangered animals have generated a major concern for the conservation of ecosystems. The current decline in biodiversity is largely due to the results of certain human activities. It is a serious threat to human development, therefore, taking effective, urgent and decisive actions to halt the loss of biodiversity, and protect biodiversity have to be in our self-interest. To ensure this, pressures on biodiversity have to be reduced, ecosystems have to be restored, biological resources have to be sustainably used, adequate financial benefits should be provided, capacities should be enhanced, and proper policies have to be implemented effectively. Problems related to biodiversity and ecosystem services include diverse values, complexity, uncertainty and the involvement of many sectors. Without an integrated cross-sectoral and multi-level policy approach, action needed to address biodiversity issues will be hindered. Therefore, to effectively promote ecosystem conservation, an integrated management of natural resources is needed through the cooperation of many different actors.
History of the International Day for Biological Diversity
In 1993, the 29th of December was selected as the International Day for Biological Diversity to educate the world and increase understanding and awareness on the importance of Biodiversity and its related issues. As holidays coincide with this time of the year, this date was changed by the UN General Assembly, and the International Day for Biodiversity (IDB) was changed to the 22nd of May in 2000. Biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to the present and future generations. Therefore, each year a theme is selected to educate the world on different topics under the field of biodiversity from water, marine, forest and sustainable development concerns.