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“ Biodiversity” is often defined as the variety of all forms of life, from genes to species, through to the broad scale of ecosystems.
"Biodiversity" was coined as a contraction of "biological diversity" in 1985, but the new term arguably has taken on a meaning and import all its own.
A symposium in 1986, and the follow-up book BioDiversity (Wilson 1988), edited by biologist E. O. Wilson, heralded the popularity of this concept.
Ten years later, Takacs (1996, p.39) described its ascent this way: "in 1988, biodiversity did not appear as a keyword in Biological Abstracts , and biological diversity appeared once.
In 1993, biodiversity appeared seventy-two times, and biological diversity nineteen times". Fifteen years further on, it would be hard to count how many times "biodiversity" is used every day by scientists, policy-makers, and others.
The global importance of biodiversity now is reflected in the widely accepted target to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of loss of biodiversity by the year 2010
Biodiversity: Most broadly, biodiversity encompasses the diversity of life on the planet. Biodiversity includes genetic diversity, the diversity of information encoded in genes within a species; species diversity, the diversity and relative abundance of species; and community/ecosystem diversity, the diversity of natural communities.
History of the Convention on Biological Diversity
Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social development. As a result, there was a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to future generations.
In response, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity which culminated on 22 May 1992 with the Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Convention was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio "Earth Summit").
It remained open for signature until 4 June 1993, by which time it had received 168 signatures. The Convention entered into force on 29 December 1993, which was 90 days after the 30th ratification.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community's growing commitment to sustainable development.
It represents a dramatic step forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Biodiversity is built over millions of years and extremely diverse habitats such as tropical rainforests have taken long stretches of geologic time to develop. That's why the extinction of species is such an important issue: once they're gone, not only are they gone forever, but it takes millions of years for new species to evolve in their place. Some extinctions are natural, but a variety of human activities have vastly increased the numbers of species disappearing every day.
The Giant Jewel of West Africa is threatened by loss of forest
Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of all known amphibians,12 percent of all known birds, 35 percent of conifers and cycads, 17 percent of sharks and 27 percent of reef-building corals assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ are threatened with extinction.
"If the world made equivalent losses in share prices there would be a rapid response and widespread panic, as we saw during the recent economic crisis. The loss of biodiversity, crucial to life on earth, has, in comparison, produced little response," said Jackson. "By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford." - IUCN
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World leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines. These findings are the result of a new paper published in the leading journal Science and represent the first assessment of how the targets made through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have not been met. -UNEP
The Indian forests may still look lush green and pristine in patches, but in the wilderness of India’s biodiversity hotspots, not everything is fine. Habitat loss due to deforestation and human encroachment is silently pushing hundreds of tree and plant species to the brink. While we know we are left with just 1411 Tigers, we don’t know how many plant species are slowly slipping into extinction because of overuse in medicinal and religious uses.