What is biodiversity and why is it important for you: the value of biodiversity for urban residents
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life that exists in an area, including the number of different species, the genetic variation within each species, the natural habitats in which these species occur, and the interrelations between different species and populations.
There is a somewhat tenuous coexistence between humans wildlife, particularly in urban areas. Every day we encounter birds such as pigeons and Hadedas, insects in the form of butterflies, bees, ants and many more, and a number of other, less conspicuous creatures that come out at night or are hidden underground or in crevices of buildings such as moles and bats. Many of these animals are not considered by most urban residents to be valuable for, not only economic, but also conservation purposes.
We know what you’re thinking, the animals occupying our immediate environment are not all beautiful, wild animals but pests that make a mess, steal food, spread disease, threaten our safety and so on. A question we need to ask is what would it be like if these ‘pests’ were no longer there. Answering this question requires an understanding of the benefits of biodiversity for humans, not only in protected areas but in cities as well.
Plants and animals provide essential services to humans both directly and indirectly. One insectivorous bat, for example, can consume 50-70% of its body weight in insects in one night, and this makes significant economic as well as human health contributions. Fruit bats, many bird species and a large number of insects such as bees pollinate and spread the seeds of many plants and therefore are essential to the plant, and associated animal, diversity of an area. Wildlife also provides us with a source of food and water and helps to protect us against natural disasters and extreme weather events. Biodiversity and functional ecosystems are responsible for soil formation, nutrient cycling and water filtration and our natural environment serves a cultural purpose as well through providing physical space and content for recreational, spiritual and religious activities. The list of benefits is long and growing daily as we discover more about the critical ways in which wildlife contributes to our quality of life.