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UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) definition of biodiversity

‘Biological diversity’ means 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 part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”


“Biological diversity is a measure of life’s compositional variation across different levels of organization—genome, population, species, and ecosystems—and its changing state over dimensions of space and time” (Gonzalez et al., 2023, p. 3)

Aspects Included

  • Functional diversity
    • different types of diversity all play a key role for holding/maintaining key ecosystem functions in the face of large-scale environmental and climate change. Ecologists refer to this as functional redundancy, and it is one of the core means of ensuring the resilience of the ecosystems on which humans depend.
  • Response Diversity
    • Variation in responses of species performing the same function
      • Crucial for resilience
  • Genetic diversity
  • Species richness
  • Biotic interactions

Biodiversity Loss

10 to 100x higher extinction rate than in the past

the current rate of species extinctions is estimated to be at least tens to hundreds of times higher than the average rate over the past 10 million years and is accelerating (24)

1 million species threatened, and 10% of genetic diversity may have been lost already

Of an estimated 8 million plant and animal species, around 1million are threatened with extinction (16), and over 10% of genetic diversity of plants and animals may have been lost over the past 150 years (23).

Paper - Earth beyond six of nine planetary boundaries by Richardson et al 2023

Key Drivers of Loss

According to IPBES (in order of signifcance)

  1. Land/sea use change
  2. Direct exploitation
  3. Climate change
  4. Pollution
  5. Invasive alien species


Subject to tipping points such as:

  • clear lakes can become turbid and dominated by algal blooms
  • coral reefs become overgrown by macroalgae
  • fisheries collapse owing to overexploitation
  • tropical forests shift to savannah-type ecosystems under high fire intensity

Value of Biodiversity

This functional value of biodiversity is often poorly understood and hugely undervalued.190,191 Biodiversity enhances ecosystem services necessary for human wellbeing, including food production, pollination, pest control, heat regulation, carbon sinks, and moisture feedback for rainfall. Nutritional quality, protective attributes, and flavours of most plant foods is a function of evolutionary interactions between species

From Paper - Food in the Anthropocene the EAT–Lancet Commission

Biodiversity plays significant roles in buffering shocks and extreme events, and in regime shift dynamics

From Paper - Our Future in the Anthropocene - Folke 2021

Provides Ecosystem Services

Biodiversity underpins many public goods such as clean air, pollination, recreation, and stress relief


Dasgupta Review - Economics of Biodiversity Biodiversity metrics Biodiversity monitoring