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What is Biodiversity Project

What is Biodiversity Project

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Published by: akhileshmoney on Jan 14, 2009
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07/18/2010

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What is biodiversity?
Oh, the beauty of a forest! The pleasure of walking through it,enjoying the smells of the flowers and the wild; watching the insectsflitting about and listening to the birds chirp - how we all love it and wishto return to it again and again. It is this biodiversity that we have to protect and take care of in order to enjoy the joy of it all. But what isbiodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety and differences among living organisms from allsources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and theecological complexes of which they are a part. This includesgenetic diversitywithinand betweenspeciesand of ecosystems. Thus, in essence, biodiversity represents all life. India is one of the mega biodiversity centres in the world and has two of theworld's 18 ‘biodiversity hotspots’ located in theWestern Ghatsand inthe Eastern  Himalayas(Myers 1999). Theforestcover in these areas is very dense and diverse and of pristine beauty, and incredible biodiversity.According to an MoEF Report (1996), the country is estimated to have over45,000 plant species and 81,000 animal species representing 7% of the world’s floraand 6.5% of its fauna. The 1999 figures are 49,219 plant species representing12.5% and 81,251 animal species representing 6.6%. The sacred groves of Indiaare some of the areas in the country where therichness of biodiversity has been well preserved. The Thar desertandthe Himalayas  are two regions rich in biodiversity in India. There are 89 national parks and 504wildlife sanctuaries in the country, theChilika Lakebeing one of them. This lake isalso an importantwetlandarea. Learn more throughmap on biodiversity in India. Over the last century, a great deal of damage has been done to thebiodiversity existing on the earth. Increasing human population, increasingconsumption levels, and decreasing efficiency of use of our resources are some of the causes that have led to overexploitation and manipulation of ecosystems. Trade in wildlife, such as rhino horn, has led to the extinction of species. Consequences of biodiversity loss can be great as any disturbance to one species gives rise toimbalance in others. In this theexotic specieshave a role to play. To prevent such loss, the Government of India is setting up biospherereserves in different parts of the country. These are multipurpose protected areas topreserve the genetic diversity in different ecosystems. Till 1999, ten biospherereserves had been set up, namely Nilgiri, Nandadevi, Nakrek, Great Nicobar, Gulf of Mannar, Manas,Sunderbans, Similipal, and Dibru Saikhowa. A number of NGOs arebeing involved in the programme to create awareness. But legal protection isprovided only to national parks and sanctuaries, which cover about 4.5% of India’sland area.
 
Definitions
 The most straightforward definition is "variation of life at all levels of biological organization".
A second definition holds that biodiversity is a measure of the relative diversity among organisms present in different ecosystems. "Diversity"in this definition includes diversity within a species and among species, andcomparative diversity among ecosystems.
 
A third definition that is often used by ecologists is the "totality of genes,species, and ecosystems of a region". An advantage of this definition is that itseems to describe most circumstances and present a unified view of the traditionalthree levels at which biodiversity has been identified:
NEED OF BIODIVERSITY 
Biological diversity is important because of the way relationships betweenspecies and habitats combine to provide yet more variation in the livingworld. Any human activity that diminishes this 'bio - diversity' could thereforeimpoverish our own quality of life, reduce the resources available to us andultimately jeopardise the survival of our descendants.
We should seek to conserve biodiversity because:
it confers direct benefits as natural processes protect our planet
it provides the raw material of food, clothing and medicines
it enhances our quality of life, by adding variety to our surroundings
it helps shape our culture and inspires our poets, painters, writers andcomposers
it is heritage we should not deny to the next generation
it is affected enomously by what we do.
PROJECT SCOPE- Biodiversity in Grain and Graze (BiGG)Alan House
The erosion of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes is a global phenomenon. Twoapproaches have been proposed to deal with this issue – the practise of wildlife-friendlyfarming, where critical components of biodiversity and ecological function at a landscapescale are supported within the agricultural landscape; and intensification of production onthe most productive parts of the landscape so that other land can be “spared” for conservation. Both approaches have benefits and disbenefits for both production andconservation.Our project is designed to test the notion that the gradient of intensification of production,from grazed native woodlands through pastures based on native grasses to pastures of exotic species and finally cropped areas, will result in altered communities of plants andanimals in a predictable way.This project is designed to answer the questions:
does the introduction of pasture phases in cropping rotations have biodiversityand ecosystem services benefits?
does pasture type and management (grazing, length of phase etc) influence biota?
do pasture phases represent an additional habitat for wildlife that augments farmleve biodiversity?
is local landscape context important in determining patterns of richness and diversity?
 
We are using a functionally important subset of biodiversity (ground active and soil/litter invertebrates) to investigate these hypotheses. Three mixed farms (Tara, Qld; Bogabilla, NSW; Warialda, NSW) that represent contrasting environments and pasture/croppingcombinations in the Border Rivers region, were chosen for study. All comprise a mix of:remnant native woodland; pastures based on native grasslands or of native grasses butderived from open woodland or clearing; pastures based on exotic grasses; and cropping.At each farm, replicates of each land use type (remnant woodland, native pastures, sown pastures) on each farm are being sampled for ground active and canopy (forage height)invertebrates using pitfall trapping and suction sampling. Vegetation composition andstructure is also recorded. Invertebrates are sorted to Order level, with selected groups(ants initially, spiders and beetles subsequently) to species where possible.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BIODIVERSITY 
At the ecosystem level, biodiversity provides the conditions and drives theprocesses that sustain the global economy – and our very survival as aspecies. The benefits and services provided by ecosystems include:
>> Generation of soils and maintenance of soil quality
 The activities of microbial and animal species – including bacteria, algae,fungi, mites, millipedes and worms condition soils, break down organicmatter, and release essential nutrients to plants. These processes play a keyrole in the cycling of such crucial elements as nitrogen, carbon andphosphorous between the living and non-living parts of the biosphere.
>> Maintenance of air quality
Plant species purify the air and regulate the composition of the atmosphere,recycling vital oxygen and filtering harmful particles resulting from industrialactivities.
>> Maintenance of water quality
Wetland ecosystems (swamps, marshes, etc.) absorb and recycle essentialnutrients, treat sewage, and cleanse wastes. In estuaries, molluscs removenutrients from the water, helping to prevent nutrient over-enrichment and itsattendant problems, such as eutrophication arising from fertilizer run-off. Trees and forest soils purify water as it flows through forest ecosystems. Inpreventing soils from being washed away, forests also prevent the harmfulsiltation of rivers and reservoirs that may arise from erosion and landslides.

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