"We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.

— E. O. Wilson,
Professor Emeritus,
Harvard University

Don't accept that you can't make a difference. Because if you can't make a difference, you won't make a difference, and if you put a multiplier on that we will continue on an unsustainable pathway.

We owe at least this much to future generations, from whom we have borrowed a fragile planet called Earth.

— Maurice Strong,
first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

A new report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warns that combined threats to oceans are creating conditions where there is “a high risk of entering a phase of "extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.”

Dr. Alex Rogers,
Scientific Director
of the IPSO
(June 22 2011)

Major causes
of biodiversity loss

Large-scale agriculture




Rainforest loss






Climate Change

Ice melt

Earth from SpaceBiodiversity 101

Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life on the planet, or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. The number and variety of plants and animals in the world provides for the rich homeland which is our planet. This diversity feeds us, cures us, and regulates our environment.
We are only beginning to discover how the vast and intricate web of life functions and the interconnectedness and interdependence of all living things, including us. It's a finely balanced system that has worked for millions of years.

Galloping extinctions

gannetsWith the growth of human population, and the increasing use of our finite planetary resources, researchers are noting a dramatic and some say terrifying trend: species all over the world are going extinct. It's happening everywhere. And at an unprecedented rate.

As we convert more and more of the planet into cities, highways and farmland, we are losing the natural world literally out from under our feet. And this loss of habitat seems to be the greatest single cause of species extinction. There are other causes as well—pollution, toxic chemicals in the environment, over-harvesting of marine and land animals. Tropical rainforests—where the number and diversity of species was once abundant—are being cut down at the rate of 140,000 km2 per year. Rainforests once covered 14 percent of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6 percent and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

monkeyThis devastating rate of loss could have a profound effect on the future of human society, and even survival, in the years to come, if it is not slowed or reversed.

Recognizing the magnitude of the issue, the United Nations declared 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity and 2010-2020 the Decade of Biodiversity.

Biodiversity research is increasing worldwide as scientists try to learn more about the impacts of these trends and develop programs to mitigate them. There's much more to learn.

Where to find information

Biodiversity is a vast subject. If you are new to it, we suggest you start with these resources first:


Why biodiversity? - David Suzuki

Biodiversity is life
Biodiversity is our life

Official video of the International Year of Biodiversity 2010

Biodiversity resources: starter kit


IUCNThe International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
General introduction to biodiversity,
information on global biodiversity conferences

how stuff worksWill we soon be extinct?
By Josh Clark
A short introduction to biodiversity with links to other resources.

Global IssuesBiodiversity
A series of articles published by Global Issues on a variety of topics related to Biodiversity.

Convention on Biological Diversity
cbdSigned by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development.

E-mail: info@biodiversityconservancy.org