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BIODIVERSITY is very difficult to define correctly; it can have many components. So a first task is get
some clarity into the understanding of the word 'Biodiversity'. The link below provides different
viewpoints on what is BIODIVERSITY. From these viewpoints can be summarised a definition with
which we can move ahead.

Here is a modified version of what UNEP has to say about BIODIVERSITY, including all
embracing definitions, which are underlined and coloured in red (http://www.unep-

What is Biodiversity?
The word 'biodiversity' means biological diversity. Diversity is the range of variation or
differences among some set of entities; biological diversity thus refers to variety within the living
world. The term 'biodiversity' is indeed commonly used to describe the number,
variety and variability of living organisms. This is essentially a synonym of 'Life on
In order to manage biodiversity properly and to prioritise our efforts, we must be able to
measures diversity and then compare these quantitative measurements. It is thus necessary to
try and disentangle some of the separate elements of which biodiversity is composed.
It has become a widespread practice to define biodiversity in terms of genes,
species and ecosystems, corresponding to three fundamental and hierarchically-
related levels of biological organisation.

1. Genetic diversity
This represents the variation which can be inherited within and between populations of
organisms. Genetic variation means differences in genomes the genetic make-up of a group of
animals or plants. Nowadays it is possible to quantitatively compare the genetic differences
between populations and identify rare genes and characteristics, worth conserving.

2. Species diversity
Perhaps because the living world is most widely considered in terms of species, biodiversity is
very commonly used as a synonym of species diversity, in particular of 'species richness', which
is the number of species in a site or habitat. Discussion of global biodiversity is typically
presented in terms of global numbers of species in different taxonomic groups. Ecuador, for
instance, is famous for high species diversity of orchids, hummingbirds and palms. An estimated
1.8 million species have been described to date; estimates for the total number of species
existing on earth at present vary from 5 million to nearly 100 million. A conservative working
estimate suggests there might be around 12.5 million. In terms of species numbers alone, life on
earth appears to consist essentially of insects and microorganisms.

3. Ecosystem diversity
Meaningful assessment of diversity at the ecosystem, habitat or community level remains
problematic. Whilst it is possible to define and measure genetic and species diversity, there is no
unique definition and classification of ecosystems at the global level, and it is thus difficult in
practice to assess ecosystem diversity other than on a local or regional basis and then only
largely in terms of vegetation. Ecosystems further differ from genes and species in that they
explicitly include abiotic components, such as soil and rocks, and climate. We would all agree
that Ecuador has exceptionally high ecosystem diversity but what exactly does that mean?

Here are some news and media items about biodiversity:

The economics of the loss of biodiversity:

A 2010 BBC report about the loss of biodiversity:

An article about how the loss of biodiversity is having a profound effect upon bee populations: