The planet earth has different species of organisms that have a specific role to play in the economic and social domain of a country. These species comprises of plant, animal and microorganism and they benefit the society by providing food and medicine to the society, economically boost an economy, give natural beauty to a country or community and render ecosystem services.
How ever, with the increasing population of man and pressure from its activities on the functioning of the planet has caused the inability of the ecosystem to meet the needs of the future generation. Economically, pressure to boost timber, crops and mineral export along side other activities such as burn agriculture in the less developed world, poaching, lack of sensitization of the importance of biological resources and the inadequate enforcement of laws of conservation has posed an immense threat to biodiversity. The rapid decrease in biodiversity may threaten the ecological process as man depends on (UNEP Press Release. July 4, 2002). What then is the future of biodiversity? This has been the focus of major debates in International environmental conferences to combat the loss of biodiversity.
The paper seeks to examine the future of biodiversity in the midst of the numerous unfolding threats affecting the ecosystem. In this paper, the concept of biodiversity shall be examined; what is biodiversity, its importance and some of the threats to biodiversity. The future of biodiversity shall be analyzed looking at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which took place in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 the preservation of Biodiversity in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in Kenya. Finally a conclusion shall be given.
2. Definition of Biodiversity
According to ICMM (International Council on Mining and Metal 2006), at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 organized by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) biodiversity is defined as “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”.
Further more, according to Stolle-Kleeman and O'Riordan(2002), biodiversity means the variety of living organism on earth, the range of species, the genetic variability within each species and the varied characteristics of the ecosystem. Biodiversity is the variety, distinctiveness and complexity of all life on earth, including its structure, functions, culture and information at all scales and in its context. After the 1992 Rio summit, biodiversity became a buzzword for measuring the health of the planet (Chapman and Reiss 1999). In all, biodiversity encompasses the difference within and between all living organisms at their different levels of biological organization.
Understanding the variety of living organism on earth and the ranges of different species, it is imperative to examine its significant and threats to the society, and economy. The next section examined the importance and threats of biodiversity to a society.
2.1 Importance and Threats of Biodiversity
Biodiversity has sustained human livelihoods and life itself. Generally, the global economy is based on its products and processes.
Biodiversity has brought about massive increases in the production of food and other natural materials, which has led to the growth and development of human societies. Through the interaction and manipulation of biodiversity, man has created new crop varieties and livestock breeds, with distinct development benefits. Biodiversity is also the basis of numerous environmental services that has kept the natural environment alive; the provision of clean water and watershed services to the recycling of nutrients and pollination. The ecosystems services include;
- Soil formation and maintenance of soil fertility (through nutrient cycling),
- Primary production through photosynthesis, as the foundation for life,
- Provision of food, fuel and fibers
- Provision of shelter and building materials
- Regulation and purification of atmospheric gases,
- Moderation of climate and weather (ICMM 2006)
Economically, biodiversity is very significant for securing of different human needs. It is the basis for food, a natural pharmaceutical laboratory and it provides storage for raw materials. It is important for scientific research and serves as a model for technical development, indicator and monitor function for mineral resources and harmful chemicals. Biodiversity goods are significant because they are implemented in the production of market goods, and these goods are said to have a production value. For example tropical rain forest possesses a production value and the destruction of these rain forests contributes to the greenhouse effects, which influence agriculture production and supply of agriculture production (Markussen et al, 2005).
While the understanding of the value of biodiversity has improved in recent years, so is the appreciation of significant threats to it. According to ICMM (2006), as population increases so has the demand for land, food, timber, fuel and other materials increase. This has been a major threat to biodiversity. Man has turn to consume some of the species, and destroy habitats.
Further more, to due to the rise in human population, it has posed a threat to biodiversity. Most of the natural world is fast disappearing as a result of hunting, of species. Most of this extinction has been used for food. Another cause of threats to biodiversity is the introduction of new species. Humans are travelers and with the introduction of new species in a particular area destroy significant ones. For instance the introduction of goat in a particular area will lead to the destruction of plant species. Humans turn to destroy the habitat of most of the species in the form of deforestation, bush fire as in Africa. With the change in weather and climate, pollution it has been a significant threat to biodiversity. Most species are destroyed as well as disappearing from their habitat (Pullin 2002).
With these threats, the Rio de Janeiro convention in 1992 was imperative, to seek for means of combating a loss in biodiversity.
3.1 The Rio de Janeiro Convention 1992
With the rise in environmental problems on the political agenda, a call for a summit of world leaders to discuss environmental problems and agree on actions and targets for sustainable development was imperative. This was manifested in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The meeting discussed the conservation of biodiversity which required member countries to sign so that action can be taken to protect biodiversity and use it accordingly (Pullin, 2002).
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- Dingha Ngoh Fobete (Author), 2007, Environmental and Resource Management, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/122092