What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity encompasses all living species on Earth and their relationships to each other. This includes the differences in genes, species and ecosystems.

Having many different living things allows Nature to recover from change. If too much biodiversity is lost, there is a problem because we depend on it to survive. Ecosystems, for instance, are extremely important because they carry out processes such as producing oxygen and cleaning soil and water.

  • Often referred to as "biodiversity", biological diversity refers to the variety of species and ecosystems on Earth and the ecological processes of which they are a part.

  • Three components of biodiversity are ecosystem, species and genetic diversity.

  • Ecosystems perform functions that are essential to human existence such as oxygen and soil production and water purification.

Humans use at least 40,000 species of plants and animals every day! We rely on biodiversity for many things, including food, medicine and clothing. Some of the ways biodiversity is lost are through:

  • Habitat destruction
  • Introduced species
  • Pollution
  • Population growth
  • Over-consumption

As a result of human activities, ecosystem, species and genetic diversity is being destroyed faster than nature can create it. This damage threatens the ecological, economic, recreational and cultural benefits that we receive from the Earth's living resources.

Canada has an amazing range of biodiversity to be conserved and protected. By working together, humans can find ways to live without negatively affecting biodiversity. You can help by investigating the importance of the variety of living things on earth.

See the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, 1995 and this Biodiversity 101 video for more information.