In order to understand and analyze the concept of biodiversity in rainforests, its importance, and in contrast – the causes and consequences of the lack of such- one must understand the concepts of biodiversity and the special traits of rainforests. Biodiversity is defined below:
Biodiversity is known as biological diversity; broadly speaking, biodiversity describes the huge variety of species (both plant and animal) found on Earth and the natural way in which ecosystems and communities are formed. (Sharon Falsetto)
Many people are not aware of the importance of Biodiversity; in order to increase human awareness in this matter, scientists declared the year 2010 as the International Year of Diversity. Furthermore, biodiversity is vital to our every-day life, as well as the existence of Earth: biodiversity plays an important role in medicine, food production, shelter, the purification and filtration of air and water, and more generally – it maintains a balance between all organisms and keeps the circle of life to spin.
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This is why many biodiversity projects were launched over the world, among them are: Biodiversity Conservation for Community Development, Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania; Conservation of Indigenous Root and Tube Varieties, Sri Lanka Community Development Center; Native Cotton Conservation, Association of Women Artisans of Arbolsol and Huaca de Barro from the Morrope District, Peru; Restoration of the Hydrological Regime, El Nya Swamp, Belarus; and Wetland Conservation for Sustainable Livelihoods, Phu My Lepironia,Vietnam.
Sharon Falsetto lists why biodiversity is important for: stabilization of Earth’s climate, detoxification of waste products, control of erosion and disease, and nutrient recycling. In other words, the decline in biodiversity will make pollution to raise, the air to be intoxicated, the possibility of natural cataclysms will rise, there will be no control over the environment and the balance will be broken. This in turn will reduce the amount of nutrient in the soil, which is needed for the growth and maintenance of species, thus, reduction of biodiversity. The latter will repeat the cycle, triggering the beginning of the extinction of species.
The importance of biodiversity in rainforests, however, is the highest among all biomes. This lies upon the special characteristics of these forests and the level of biodiversity in them. Being mainly located around the equator, rainforests, also called humid tropical forests due to the fact that it rains all the time, are fast changing ecosystems. The temperature usually varies between 23-27 deg C during the whole year, evaporate-transpiration is strong due to its location (the equator), and it is known with its giant trees. Moreover, tropical rainforests, though being only 2 per cent of Earth’s territory, contain around 50 per cent of all species of the entire planet. This is due to the high humidity, temperature, light, big amount of rain and a very sufficient nutrient recycling. However, researches show that in these forests there is a scarcity of dissolved nutrients in the soil and that nutrients are found mainly in living plant biomass. (John Terbogh 242)
According to the Rainforest Conservation Fund, causes of decline in biodiversity are:
- Human population growth- the bigger usage of materials, the higher the destruction of trees and species
- Habitat destruction- the more humanity uses territory of the forest, the more species get extinct and have no place to live because unlike in other forests, they cannot adapt to any area of the forest. One of the main differences between rain forests’ inhabitants and other forests’ inhabitants is that it is common they inhabit small areas. This is because the climate is the same almost everywhere throughout the whole year- species do not need to adapt to different areas
- Pollution – organisms that require pristine environment (water, air or food), will not survive. The worst pollution is of water, because around 12 per cent of all species live in it.
- Agriculture – due to increase of population, the consumption of resources (food, wood, water and others) increases as well.
- Global warming – at the beginning warmth will shift up growth of species because it will alter nitrogen, but biomass will increase as well, which will take too much nitrogen from the soil, leaving too little for future productivity) and others.
In conclusion, being one of the areas on that contains most species, if rainforest’s balance will be influenced by the factors above, that would mean a cataclysmic extinction of many species and that in turn will change the face of Earth forever; such an event was the extinction of the dinosaurs. Many scientists claim that we are on the path that leads us to the next one. Although many organizations try to contribute to the environment, especially to rain forests, no one can guarantee that it has been done enough.
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Bibliography Sharon Falsetto. The Importance of Biodiversity, Mar 16, 2010. Web. 22.11.2011 Karla Sperling. Importance of Biodiversity in the Ecosystem. n. pag. Web. 22.11.2011 Terbogh, John. Diversity and the Tropical Rainforest. New York: Scientific American Library, 1992. Print. n.p., Facts on Forests and Forestry. 23.10.2007, Web. 22.11.2011 Rainforest Conservation Fund. Causes of recent declines in biodiversity. n.pag. Web. 22.11.2011