“Biodiversity” is a term that describes one of the earth’s most important resources. In recent decades, it has become especially evident that humanity relies on biodiversity for many necessities such as food, medicine, and clean water. As a result of human activity, we have been losing all forms of biodiversity at an incredible rate. This includes any living organism from a small insect found in a patch of dirt to a giant rainforest tree that has taken hundreds of years to grow. Every year the current trends continue, life on Earth becomes more impoverished as unique species become extinct. The loss can be measured by looking at all those things humans use from nature which are becoming less common every day due to overharvesting or habitat loss throughout history
In today’s world, biodiversity loss has become so extreme that scientists have raised an alarm about the so-called “sixth extinction”, in reference to the five mass extinctions in the history of life on Earth. According to some estimates, current extinction rates are between one hundred and one thousand times higher than the natural background rate with several species becoming extinct every day around the globe. Extinction is an inevitable process that occurs throughout nature; however, it usually takes place over hundreds or even thousands of years. The human impact on the biosphere is changing the face of this planet faster than any other force known to man and is endangering many forms of life including our own.
The main factor driving biodiversity loss is habitat loss due to land clearing for agricultural purposes, logging, development, and urbanization. The biggest problem with this factor is the fact that humans need a lot of space to be able to meet their needs, but continuing habitat loss at its current rate will result in a significant decline of biodiversity on earth. There are several causes for land clearing by humans such as population growth, destruction of natural habitats for agriculture, and increases in livestock production.
Another major cause of biodiversity decline is overexploitation which includes both harvesting living organisms from nature as well as destroying their habitat without which they cannot survive. In many cases, this results from inhabitants of developing nations trying to meet basic subsistence needs through exploiting ecosystems. Overexploitation can also come from an increase in demand which exceeds the capacity of the environment to supply the needed organisms. For example, overfishing has led to a significant reduction in global fish populations and while some steps have been taken to protect them such as creating marine reserves, this hasn’t prevented stocks from continuing to decline worldwide.
The main cause of biodiversity loss on land is deforestation and forest fragmentation which represents a worldwide problem that is estimated to claim between 13 and 40 species every day. Although deforestation has slowed significantly in some areas such as Brazil, it continues at an alarming rate elsewhere such as Malaysia and Indonesia where rainforests continue to be destroyed for the sake of luxury crops like cocoa and palm oil or ranching activities such as beef production. Mining also can result in habitat destruction; however, there are cases where they can actually help to restore habitat by building access roads that can improve the wildlife potential of an area.