Our ecosystem involves complex interlocking of individual species which have evolved over millions of years. In this complex jig-saw puzzle kind of framework, the loss of any species has a significant impact on the remaining species. There is a danger of collapse of the ecosystem with some key pieces being lost.
Bio-diversity actually refers to the whole set of life forms that exist on this earth. Varieties exist at genetic as well as species level. Genetic meaning that there are genetic variations between individuals of same or different populations of the same species. Variety at the level of species means existence of different species that are inter-related by taxonomy. Ecosystem diversity or biodiversity is thus clearly not definable as there are not distinct boundaries between the ecosystems and they merge into each other. There are close to 1.4 million species known to exist on earth and certain ecosystems that are rarely discovered continue to be added to this count.
Extinction is a law of nature and as a result some species have evolved while others have died ever since life originated on earth. But this extinction has come to an alarming rate due to human activities that affect the eco-system. As human population continues to grow and per capita consumptions has grown higher, Earth’s biological diversity is being exploited at an uncontrolled rate.
Wide scale deforestation and global climate change due to increased pollution levels are two prime factors that are linked with disturbed ecological balance. Tropical rain-forests have been destroyed and it has been counted as a matter of concern amongst the ecologists. If the exploitation of ecosystems due to unscrupulous activities like poaching, hunting, destruction of natural habitats for existence of flora and fauna continues at the present rate, the extinction of almost ¼ of the entire species on the earth is predicted in next 30 years. It may be that another 100 years would mark an end to the existence of life on earth.
Forests play a major role in conserving biodiversity. Climate of a place and the species inhabited by it are regulated by the forests. An increase of the amount of Carbon Monoxide is the most common consequence of forest depletion resulting both from cutting and burning of trees. It is this carbon dioxide which reaches the upper later of atmosphere and gives rise to the greenhouse effect resulting in global warming. Flooding and erosion of soil also result from deforestation as roots of trees assist in keeping the soil from being washed away.
Other indirect effects include the melting of snow and ice cover over the Polar Regions and as a result sea levels have risen by as much as 100-200mm in last 100 years. The disturbed weather conditions like drought, floods, acid rain, hurricanes causing havoc to human race as well as plants and animals species on the earth clearly indicate imbalance in ecological systems. Since climatic changes also affect the life forms that sustain, many species are under the threat of being lost with climatic changes taking a drastic shape.
It is important to control the economic activities that are highly inefficient and are threatening the ecological balance on earth. Resources like forests, wildlife must be conserved at a sustainable rate by taking various approaches to save them. We must be far-sighted in our efforts for conservation and management and keep clear objectives and have mechanisms for action to get any real results. Specialized solutions may have to be devised to prevent the loss of species. Only setting aside areas of reserves may not suffice as a solution to conserving bio-diversity.
Instead, it is important to understand the ecological processes like pollination, predation, seed dispersal etc which allow for interactions between various species of animals and plants and ensure them.
Protected area networks such as more national parks and wildlife sanctuaries provide habitats to the plants and the animal species and thus conserve ecosystems appropriate to their survival. Surveys must be done to collect adequate data on the species of plants and animals.
Based on results, priority issues must be addressed and research carried out focusing on these issues. Mapping of forest types and natural forests must be done to help preserve the biodiversity by determination of possible corridors and buffer zones. Protection of biodiversity lying outside the protected areas is important owing to the habitat fragmentation and losses suffered by various species.
A correct approach towards integration of protected and non-protected areas should be followed to check the isolated population structure of species that are moving towards extinction. Biodiversity conservation is important as human species is linked to the natural world and its survival is possible only if biodiversity is rightly conserved.