Biodiversity refers to the existing life forms that include plants and animals inhabiting a given planet or ecosystem. It supports resources of living organisms through pollination, erosion prevention, water purity, the quality of air being breathed in, and climatic conditions. This phenomenon is also very imperative since it boosts up the productivity level in an ecosystem ensuring that each organism, be it small or big, plays its role (Ellstrand, 2003). Furthermore, for the last few decades, human-related activities have been thought to cause a lot of harm to the entire system. Biodiversity has also other benefits, such as the beauty of a place, tourist attraction, and spiritual and esthetic values. In the recent past and today, biodiversity has been under threat and degradation as a result of various factors. In this paper, the latter is the main problem under analysis.
The overexploitation of natural resources can be taken as a strong factor affecting diversity. It is a result of the fact that resources within a certain niche are used at a rate, at which they are unsustainable, leading to a shortage of a particular resource. Practices on land that overexploit resources of biodiversity include overhunting, logging, wildlife trade, and poor soil conservation, while the ones on water involve overfishing and others. By logging and poor soil conservation, a lot of fertile topsoils in an ecosystem are eroded by such agents of erosion as wind and water, leaving no sustainable land for agriculture or plant life, which is vital for the carbon cycle, as well as food for a large number of organisms. Animals also depend on various plants, particularly trees for their shelter and habitats.
A rapid human population increase takes place year after year leading to a continued fight for a share of resources that exist within a particular ecosystem. The increased human population has led to the destruction of natural vegetation in order to create a room for settlement. Such destruction leaves inferior organisms with no habitats and food to survive leading to possible migration and, in certain circumstances, the extinction of some of them (Chen, 2005). Vegetation in an area helps to bind the soil together preventing erosion and protecting the fertility of the land. Thus, the increased human population reduces the available land for farming. In certain circumstances, rapid human population growth has led to the destruction of forest cover in order to utilize trees as building materials, while creating a room for settlement. This forest destruction has resulted in the drying up of water catchment areas, rivers and streams, and consequentially the lack of sufficient water in the ecosystem.
Another factor that can be identified as a problem is climate change. Such human activities as the emission of greenhouse gases and burning of fossil fuels, being a result of economic developments, have led to climate change all over the world as a result of the destruction of the ozone layer. Climate change makes the atmosphere that can be at times too cold for the existence of certain plants and animals. It leads to a possible threat of extinction and an altered weather pattern making agriculture difficult to carry out and reducing food security. In the latter case, human lives are threatened with starvation, which can lead to many deaths. As a result of changing weather patterns, the number of aridity and flooding cases will increase. Thus, the land for farming will be degraded.
Habitat destruction is another factor that can be considered in connection with biodiversity. It involves the destruction of the natural homes of a particular group of species in an ecosystem. Factors that lead to the destruction of habitats include overpopulation, the pollution of the environment, deforestation due to the increased use of tree-related products and global warming as a result of climate change. The destruction of habitats has diverse effects on the biodiversity of a given region, including facilitating co-extinction. It is the extinction of particular species as a result of the extinction of another one, on which the former depend for their survival. It can be a plant or an animal or both. Habitat destruction involves deforestation and reduced tree cover altering the carbon cycle. Hence, a particular region can suffer from increased carbon levels due to poor air purification. The lack of trees in an area also facilitates land degradation due to soil erosion, as well as aridity.
Genetic pollution involves the replacement of local genomes in an attempt to increase the numerical or fitness status of species. Genetic modification is a trending technology in the world in a bid to create species that are less prone to diseases, and that can mature faster to increase food security for the rapidly increasing human population. Genetic pollution has greatly affected the existence of indigenous species of plants and animals. The human population is quickly warming up to the idea of plants and animals that can mature faster in order to get their food stores increased. It leads to the slow and eventual extinction of certain species in an ecosystem. However, these genetically modified species will not be always for fit consumption in terms of their healthiness leading to diseases and ill health of the human population.
Another considerable factor is introduced species in an ecosystem brought into artificially without prior existence in it. Evasive species breach a barrier that normally keeps them from occupying another species’ territory, using resources that will normally sustain them in that niche. Introduced and evasive species make such resources as food, shelter, and water completed, eventually leading to losses in vegetation and consequential soil erosion. They also facilitate the extinction of certain species that circum as a result of the completion of the available resources.
Solutions Currently Implemented
In order to sustain future generations, the human population needs to come up with a solution to biodiversity threats facing the present world. Legislation should be considered as a factor that governs the protection of the biodiversity of a particular region at the global, national and local levels. These laws have presently allowed for companies that emit hazardous gases in the environment, as well as poachers and illegal loggers, to be fined and do time in prison due to their actions directed to environmental degradation. However, in some areas, leniency has always hindered the implementation of these laws, as well as the lack of goodwill by those that are in power making sure that these rules and regulations are followed to the letter.
Environmental organizations are groups, whose primary role is to conserve biodiversity at the local, national or even global levels. These organizations base their activity on the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). They have promoted the creation of awareness for the need to protect the environment by the human population. They also provide funding for campaigns in a bid to save biodiversity. However, as much as these organizations have the will to save biodiversity from impeccable danger, they suffer from the lack of sufficient funding that can help keep their mission and vision running, especially at the local level. They also suffer from the lack of goodwill support from respective governments, which, in most cases, prefer the economic benefits of policies that they pick up in relation to the biodiversity threat at stake.
The use of alternative energy is a solution that is currently being implemented to solve the problems connected with biodiversity. Biogas has been recently brought up as the best alternative source replacing the use of fossil fuels as energy providers. It is vital, as it uses wastes to create energy providing a solution for waste management and energy at the same time. Biogas energy is pure and completely free of lead gases that deplete the ozone layer since it is purely organic. However, as much as biogas is pure, it can only be produced in the minimal amount only proportional to organic waste management production. Thus, it can only be used locally and very unlikely in industrial capacity. In addition, the setup for biogas production is very expensive, and very few people can build the one up.
The government in various countries protects specific areas, as well as animals from destruction. By implementing the respective policies, biodiversity is preserved. Organisms are protected by laws governing that area from the destruction is a result of the threats discussed above. These areas include water catchment zones, tropical forests, wildlife, and game parks, as well as certain marine life territories. Animals at risk of extinction, such as the tiger and white rhino, are also kept in protected custody by respective governments to save them from the illegal wildlife trade. The protection on the part of the government has led to sustaining biodiversity since the water and carbon cycles are conserved. Protected animals also help a country gain from tourism. However, not all policies can be followed to the letter, as people will still get involved in illegal hunting for game parts of the animal’s body, such as the rhinoceros horns. Water catchment areas are still being encroached into by the ever-increasing human population trying to create a room for settlement.
Sustainable land usage techniques also control problems that may be connected with biodiversity. These refer to the use of land inappropriate ways in order to sustain agricultural activities. Positive land usage techniques include the use of compost and organic manure as compared to industrial fertilizers (Raup, 1994). Mixed farming can also be incorporated rather than applying monoculture that leads to the depletion of certain minerals in the soil and the intoxication of the underutilized ones. However, a great number of people have picked up the trend of cash-crop farming in a bid to make a living and end up planting a single type of crops on large tracts of land. It is nearly impossible to change people’s ideology, especially when their livelihood is concerned, at the expense of doing well to the environment.
Exotic species that have turned out to pet can be taxonomically identified by the use of the barcode of life. For instance, the Digital Automated Identification System (DAISY) may be of use in this practice. Missing species that need to be reintroduced may be identified by the use of such databases as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Encyclopedia of Life. The use of these databases illustrates how technology is applied to solve biodiversity problems. Science is also perfectly utilized while dealing with issues relating to biodiversity. It dictates the use of pesticides to preserve the lives of = important species. Better targeting of various pesticides gives more species a room to survive in urbanized and agricultural areas.
Global economic agreements, which include the Convection on Biological Diversity, grant the sovereign international right over biological resources. This agreement commits nations to conserve biodiversity. The reason behind it is that a lot of benefits are shared when biodiversity is conserved. Therefore, the agreement urges countries to develop resources for sustainability in order to foster the growth of their economies as well. Nations, which allow the collection of natural products, anticipate a share of economic benefits, rather than permit an institution or individual that discovers a resource to capture and use it privately. When such principles are not put into practice, many nations may realize a reduction at the economic level (Wilson, 1988).
Biodiversity is considered while making political and judicial decisions. The relationship existing between ecosystems and laws is ancient and has some consequences affecting biodiversity. It is related to public and private rights. It can perfectly define not only the protection of ecosystems that are threatened but also some duties and rights (for instance, hunting and fishing rights). The law that regards to species is a bit more recent. It clearly defines some special species that have to be protected, since they may face extinction. The United States Endangered Species Act reflects an example of an attempt that can absolutely address the “law and species” issue. The laws that regard to gene pools are almost a century old. Besides, the plant breeding method and domestication are not new, but advances realized in genetic engineering have resulted in the development of tighter laws that cover the distribution of organisms that are genetically modified, process patents and gene patents. The government always struggles to decide whether to focus on genomes and genes or on species and organism.
However, uniform biodiversity approval that can make it a legal standard has not been achieved yet. Nevertheless, biodiversity should never be used as a legal standard. It is due to the fact that the remaining areas as a result of scientific uncertainty lead to unacceptable administrative waste, as well as an increase in litigation without the promotion of preservation goals.
The protection of biodiversity from further harm is the common good of the entire human population and future generations. The depletion of natural systems increases the risk of involving people. It is therefore advisable to spread biodiversity consciousness to all stakeholders at the local level up to the global one in order to build up sustainable ecosystems for the present and future generations (Patent & Munoz, 1994).
It is recommended that the levels of taxonomy should be enhanced, and such training should be linked more directly to the ongoing management and measurement of biodiversity. Increasing technical and scientific capacity in countries is very vital. It is crucial to increase professional taxonomy of the primary groups of organisms and to relieve problems encountered while identifying a big range of species by the use of efficient information technology. Less costly approaches to grant identification may also be very effective.
It should also be the role of every one of us to ensure that all factors that bring about biodiversity extinction are solved and brought to an end. For example, different strategies should be put in place to help resolve the issue of the continued decline in the number of tigers. It is well-known that among many other animals, these animals are at a higher risk of being poached for their tides. The government should state out a punishment that will be faced by all those, who go against the rule of stopping poaching animals. The issue of cutting down trees illegally should also be looked into to ensure that a solution to the destruction of forests is found. It will thereby help to ensure that those animals, which have their habitats build on trees or in the forests, are maintained and saved from the risk of becoming homeless.
Human beings should also be taught and understand the need of using resources in an essential manner. Some organisms, such as earthworms live in the soil; this is where they find their food and habitat. Thus, it would be better for farmers and other people to be taught on how to maintain a favorable environment for these organisms, so that they can in return be of help to them. The excessive use of chemicals in the soil can be dangerous to them, and it might end up killing earthworms and making it hard for them to perform their perforation role in the soil. It can be very dangerous to throw polythene bags on the soil. It is because they will form a layer on the soil making it very difficult for air to get in or out of it. Thus, there will be no life. The agricultural department should take up their role of teaching a farmer simple farming techniques that will ensure that the ecosystem found in the soil exists.
People should also aim at reducing harsh climatic changes that make it hard for biodiversity to exist. Companies should ensure that they do not release harmful chemicals into the open air, water or soil, since they cause health problems to animals, once such substances get into their bodies. For example, once a company has released water containing chemicals into a river, fish and other animals will take in that water and will end up losing their lives. Take for example a sudden and unexpected climate change. What brings about such kind of experiences? The answer is simple. When people destroy the ozone layer, ultra-violet rays penetrate into the earth easily. Thus, there are very hot and very cold seasons. The ozone layer is of great benefit to the entire world because it prevents harmful rays from penetrating into the earth; but once it is destroyed, rays will have a direct path. At other times, there are acidic rains. It is not among the dreams of any of us to experience such a situation. It is because this rain corrodes all that it finds on its way. Be it crops, machinery, roofs on houses and other things. For this reason, it is recommended to learn how to expose waste materials. Dustbins and waste treatment processes should be initiated to ensure that wastes being released to the virgin environment is not harmful. People should be urged to be responsible for their actions and always think of their repercussions. One should also take it upon oneself to think about other people and the result of his or her actions.