Biodiversity – overview

Biodiversity is the incredible, dizzying variety of life that surrounds us, including all of the earth’s plants, animals, their habitats, and the natural processes that they are a part of. [1]

The concept includes every species of bacteria, virus, plant, fungi, and animal, as well as the diversity of genetic material within each species. It also encompasses the diverse ecosystems the species make up and the ongoing evolutionary processes that keep them functioning and adapting. [3]                                                                                                                                       biodiversity

The natural world – biodiversity – provides us with food, materials and energy. We eat animals and plants; insects pollinate many of the foods we consume; microbes in the soil provide the nutrients the plants need to grow; vegetation and soil biodiversity reduce flooding and release clean drinking water; vegetation soaks up a substantial proportion of the climate warming carbon dioxide gasses that we emit. The list goes on and on. [2] Continue reading

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Soil degradation – chemicals

soil degrdation graphs

Types, degree and causes of global land degradation. © 2013 Nature Education

Soil and land degradation is caused by human mismanagement of soils, mostly due to agricultural activities. A report on the global assessment of soil degradation states that ‘the earth’s soils are being washed away, rendered sterile or contaminated with toxic chemicals at a rate that cannot be sustained’  Today almost a quarter of the world’s farmland is affected by serious degradation, up from 15% two decades ago. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) study indicates the world may currently be losing about 1% (50,000 sq kms) of its farmland annually due to a combination of degradation, urban sprawl, mining, recreation, toxic pollution and rising sea levels. [1] Continue reading

Soil degradation- water & wind

Soil is the earth’s fragile skin that anchors all life on Earth

Soil is the earth’s fragile skin that anchors all life on Earth. It is comprised of countless species that create a dynamic and complex ecosystem and is among the most precious resources to humans. [1]

Human activities that significantly reduce soil cover (e.g., tillage and clear-cutting) and/or intensify wind or water movement (e.g., the removal of windbreaks and channelization of streams) often result in accelerated erosion that exceeds geologic erosion rates by several orders of magnitude. [2] Continue reading