What is Biodiversity? (module 1, p. 2)

Biological diversity (or biodiversity) is the diversity of plants, animals and other living organisms in all their forms and levels of organization. It includes the diversity of genes, species, ecosystems and the evolutionary and functional processes that link them.

Biodiversity includes:

  • Species diversity — the number and relative abundance of species in an area. Generally, the more the diverse the habitat the greater the diversity of species one could expect to find in an area.
  • Genetic diversity — the genetic variation found among individuals of the same species. For example, there are different flowering dates for different Douglas-fir trees. Genetic diversity reflects the adaptability of a species to a changing environment.
  • Ecosystem diversity — the variety of unique or distinguishable habitats found in an area. It is a reflection of how an area responds to natural disturbances, like fire, wind, avalanches, landslides, insects, and diseases. In addition, it reflects the influence of climate and physical landscape features (topography) on the area.

To have a diverse forest requires that there be a diversity of habitats because the habitat needs (food, water, shelter, and territory) of each species are slightly different from other species.

Are there other reasons? If so, list them.

Biodiversity is important for a number of reasons:

  • It provides jobs and the forest products we all use, both now and in the future.
  • It keeps our environment healthy and strong, and resistant to disease, insect epidemics, pollution, and global warming.

It is important to protect biodiversity for future generations. The way we manage our forest resources can threaten British Columbia's rich biodiversity. For example, intensive forest management practices can reduce biodiversity. Community subdivisions, mining, farming, grazing, and hydroelectric projects also affect biodiversity. We must take action today to protect biodiversity, so that we will continue to enjoy the jobs, recreation, and cultural uses those forests give us.

Forest biodiversity is important for three other reasons:

  • Economic
  • Ecological
  • Ethical or cultural

What do you know about these three reasons? Write down what you know.