Biodiversity and Urban World: Understanding the Relationship

Text & photos by Yogini Patil

The term biological diversity or biodiversity describes the extensive variety of life found on our planet. The term was first coined in the year 1985 by Walter Rosen of the National Research Council. The mega diversity of species of plants, animals, microorganisms, humans, and the various environments such as forests, deserts, grasslands, coral reefs, cities, etc., are all elements of Earth’s biodiversity. Each species of our planet’s biodiversity, no matter how big or small, plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and thereby keeping the Earth, and us, alive. Earth’s biological diversity today, is a product of over 3.5 billion years of evolution [1].

Why Is Biodiversity Important?

It is an understatement to say biodiversity is important for humanity. Healthy biodiversity is a must for the stability and sustainability of the planet. From something as apparent as providing us with the wealth of the biological resources that we rely on to something as crucial yet obscure as being a part of the solution to the climate change crisis, a solid biodiversity plays a vital role.

Irrespective of whether one resides in a top metropolitan city anywhere on the globe or a nondescript village in the remotest pocket of India, the dependency on the ecosystem for the requirement of food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, soil fertility and more, cannot be argued. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, FAO 2011 report, 45% of the world’s population depends on agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting for their livelihood [2]. In India, the ecosystem and its services are subsistent means of livelihood for an estimated 70% of the country’s population [3].

The interdependency of all the elements of the biodiversity and what each species offers to each other ensures natural sustainability for all life forms on Earth. Destroying this natural balance can cost us way more than what one may think! It is a different story that nature can and will, always restore the balance, but how heavy the price will be and who will bear the brunt is simply an unthinkable thought.

Take, for example, the bees. The relationship between plants, bees, and humans is a crucial one. The honey bees are the world’s most important pollinator, followed by other insects, birds, and bats. Globally, a vast variety of wild plants and crops depend on