The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems" (1). Essentially, this means the variety of life on earth at the level of the gene, the species, and the ecosystem.
Healthy biodiversity is fundamental to societal wellbeing and economic prosperity. Biodiversity is a part of our natural capital - nature's assets that enable human civilisation - and without it, we can't survive. It gives us healthy soils to grow food, clean, oxygenated air to breathe, clean water to drink and use in industry, fibre for clothes and furniture, resilience against floods and droughts, as well as beautiful places to enjoy, inspiration and a sense awe or wonder that benefits our physical and mental health.
Biodiversity is in decline in Ireland and around the world. Over 90% of Ireland's protected habitats are in 'poor' or 'inadequate' condition (2). Globally, species are going extinct at over 1,000 times the natural rate and scientists believe we are in the midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction (note: the fifth one wiped out the dinosaurs). Populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have declined 58% since 1970 and if the current trend continues, this could reach 67% by 2020 (3).
We all have a part to play in reversing this decline. Doing so is not only good for the environment, it's good for society and good for business too. There is a strong business case for biodiversity that offers multiple benefits, including improved reputation, better community relationships, improved employee engagement and health and wellbeing, and the achievement of CSR and sustainability targets.
(1) Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992: https://www.cbd.int/doc/legal/cbd-en.pdf
(2) National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2013
(3) World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), 2016