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22nd of May is observed as the International Day for Biological Diversity – a day marked in the global calendar to raise and create awareness about biodiversity and its issues. Biodiversity encompasses the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life. In short, it is the foundation of ecosystem services of which human beings are a small part, along with the variety of animals, plants, and microorganisms. For almost every aspect of our lives, we depend on biodiversity. However, despite it being critical to our survival, this ecosystem has come under severe stress over the last few decades – largely due to human activity. According to WWF’s Living Planet Report, Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. The report released last year states that the numbers of mammals, birds, fish, plants and insects have declined by an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016. The State of the World’s Plants and Fungi in 2020 assessment says, Two-fifths of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction. To convey to people the urgent need to protect nature, restore ecosystems and establish a balance in our relationship with the planet, the theme of Biodiversity Day this year is – We’re part of the solution.

Staggering value of forests:

  • Climate change and the ongoing pandemic will put additional stresses on our natural ecosystems even though it is becoming clear that repairing our dysfunctional relationship with nature is one of the ways to mitigate climate change and curtail future outbreaks of infectious diseases that can bring unimaginable misery.
  • The precise economic value of all ecosystem services provided by biodiversity may not be known, estimates suggest our forests alone may yield services worth more than a trillion rupees per year.
  • Imagine how much greater this value will be with grasslands, wetlands, freshwater, and marine added.
  • Sadly, today, we face not only one of the worst public health crises but also worldwide declines in biodiversity.
  • Globally, we have lost 7% intact forests since 2000, and recent assessments indicate that over a million species might be lost forever during the next several decades. Our country is not an exception to these trends.

Living planet report:

  • It is published every 2 years by WWF, first published in
  • It is based on the ‘Living Planet Index’ and ‘Ecological footprint calculations’.
  • The ‘Living Planet Index’ is an indicator of the state of global biological diversity managed by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF.
  • Ecological footprint is the biologically productive area needed to provide for everything used by people: fruits and vegetables, fish, wood, fibres, absorption of CO2 from fossil fuels use, and space for buildings and roads. It is currently developed by Global Footprint Network (an independent think-tank). The GHG footprint and carbon footprint are a component of Ecological Footprint.
  • Humanity’s Ecological Footprint for 2014 was 1.7 planet Earth’s. This meant that humanity’s demands were 1.7 times faster than what the Earth’s ecosystems renewed.
  • It is a science-based analysis on the health of Earth and the impact of human activity.
  • The 2018 report has found a decline of 60% in population sizes of vertebrate species from 1970 to 2014. The tropics of South and Central America had an 89% loss compared to 1970.
  • Issues like Ocean acidification, loss of corals, increasing Carbon in the atmosphere, species disappearance due to habitat loss and degradation, etc are highlighted in the 2018 report.
  • Increasing use of plastics that ultimately reaches the oceans and seas via rivers is also a cause for deaths of marine organisms.
  • The latest report calls for new goals post-2020 alongside Convention on Biological Diversity, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Environmental crisis:

  • Ozone Depletion
  • Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming
  • Desertification
  • Deforestation
  • Loss of Biodiversity
  • Disposal of Wastes.

Benefits of Biodiversity conservation:

  • Nature provides ecosystem services which are vital for food production, for clean air and water, provision of fuel for millions, absorption of carbon in the atmosphere, and climate moderation.
  • Conservation of biological diversity leads to conservation of essential ecological diversity to preserve the continuity of food chains.
  • The genetic diversity of plants and animals is preserved.
  • It ensures the sustainable utilisation of life support systems on earth.
  • It provides a vast knowledge of potential use to the scientific community.
  • A reservoir of wild animals and plants is preserved, thus enabling them to be introduced, if need be, in the surrounding areas.
  • Biological diversity provides immediate benefits to the society such as recreation and tourism.
  • Biodiversity conservation serves as an insurance policy for the future.

Way Ahead:

  • Thus, preserving biodiversity is directly relevant to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of our people.
  • We must rethink and reimagine the concept of One Health for all living organisms, including the invisible biota in soils that sustain our agricultural systems.
  • National Mission on Biodiversity and Human Well-Being programme will offer nature-based solutions to numerous environmental challenges, including degradation of rivers, forests, and soils, and ongoing threats from climate change, with the goal of creating climate-resilient communities.
  • Scientific inputs, especially related to geospatial informatics and policy, can guide the development of strategies for conservation and ecosystem management


  • Finally, biodiversity is everywhere, and we interact with biodiversity all the time in our daily lives.
  • Public engagement, whether it is in the policymaking arena, or in exploration, restoration and conservation of biodiversity, is a critical component of the planned Mission.
  • This year World Environment Day (June 5), with the novel coronavirus pandemic raging across our vast country, we must reflect on the ways to rebuild our relationship with nature.
  • On the heels of the International Day for Biological Diversity, nothing could be more important than to renew our pledge to nurture all life on earth.