Why does it matter?
Biodiversity is relevant to everyone. As humans, we owe much of our existence and evolution to biodiversity. This relationship has helped shape the planet we live on.
As hunter–gatherers we depended upon animals for food and shelter.
As early farmers we cleared vast swathes of woodland for grazing animals. In these clearings grassland and heathland developed. These are now much prized and declining habitats.
Ancient woodlands had a number of uses for man including fuel, food and shelter as well as providing wood for making charcoal and coke in early metal making industries.
We needed habitats and their associated species for our own survival and development. It was important we managed them appropriately and in a sustainable way, ensuring there was enough habitat to support future generations.
Much of our ancient and modern medicines are derived from plants and animals. These plants and animals need the appropriate quality of habitat to support them. Medicinal leeches, for example, once a well used cure for all types of diseases are now a threatened species.
We rely on the plants and trees in the world to turn the carbon dioxide we all breathe out into oxygen. Cutting down forests lessens the capacity to perform this vital task.
The vast majority of Derbyshire’s tourism industry is built upon the county’s natural beauty. Many jobs are therefore dependant upon the scenery and wildlife remaining unspoilt.
Many of us list walking in the countryside as one of our favourite pastimes. One of the reasons why we do this is to watch and enjoy the wildlife, whether we are conscious of this or not. Studies have shown that patients in hospital recover from illness and operations quicker when they have a view of countryside from their window. In urban areas many people get pleasure from their own gardens and the wildlife they attract.
We all have choices to make in our everyday lives that can affect biodiversity. This affect can be a positive or negative. Examples include choosing whether to buy organic products, or feeding birds in our gardens. Educating future generations about the value of biodiversity is very important. This can be done by encouraging children and young people to get involved in the natural world around them.
There is much that can be achieved by individuals, landowners, local groups, local authorities, businesses and schools and our section on ‘getting involved’ will give you some ideas about how to help biodiversity.
Some biodiversity is irreplaceable and we all need to make an effort to preserve it for future generations!