Biodiversity and ecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystems, encompassing the vast variety of life on Earth and the natural systems they inhabit, are fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their importance is acknowledged explicitly in several SDGs due to their critical role in maintaining environmental balance and supporting human life and well-being.

SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land) are directly focused on the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, respectively. These goals recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the vital services ecosystems provide, such as habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and soil formation. The preservation and restoration of ecosystems like forests, wetlands, and coral reefs are essential for maintaining biodiversity, which in turn supports ecological resilience and the sustenance of human life.

The role of biodiversity and ecosystems in achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) is significant. The variety of life forms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, underpins agricultural productivity. Pollinators, soil organisms, and genetic diversity of crops are all crucial for food production and agricultural resilience. Ecosystems support agriculture not just in terms of crop yield but also in sustaining the natural resources like soil and water, upon which agriculture depends.

Similarly, SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) is closely tied to the health of ecosystems. Natural habitats such as forests and wetlands play a key role in filtering and purifying water, maintaining the water cycle, and regulating water flow. This natural filtration process is vital for providing clean drinking water and supporting sanitation systems.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are also crucial for SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being). Natural environments regulate diseases by supporting a balance among species that, in turn, can control pest and disease outbreaks. Additionally, a vast number of medical discoveries, including medicines and treatments, have their origins in biological resources, underscoring the potential of biodiversity in contributing to human health and well-being.

Moreover, biodiversity and ecosystems play a significant role in addressing climate change, linking to SDG 13 (Climate Action). Ecosystems such as forests and oceans are major carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Protecting and restoring these ecosystems are vital strategies for climate change mitigation. Additionally, healthy ecosystems provide crucial services for climate change adaptation, such as protecting against extreme weather events and helping communities adjust to changing environmental conditions.

However, achieving these goals requires addressing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, and invasive species. It also involves balancing the needs of human development with environmental conservation, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are integral to achieving multiple SDGs. Their conservation and sustainable use not only benefit the environment but are essential for food security, water purity, human health, and combating climate change. The protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems are therefore crucial steps towards sustainable development and ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.

Elsevier,

Global Environmental Change, Volume 26, May 2014

In 1997, the global value of ecosystem services was estimated to average $33. trillion/yr in 1995 $US ($46. trillion/yr in 2007 $US). In this paper, we provide an updated estimate based on updated unit ecosystem service values and land use change estimates between 1997 and 2011. We also address some of the critiques of the 1997 paper. Using the same methods as in the 1997 paper but with updated data, the estimate for the total global ecosystem services in 2011 is $125. trillion/yr (assuming updated unit values and changes to biome areas) and $145.

Based on literature and six country studies (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovakia) this paper discusses the compatibility of the EU 2020 targets for renewable energy with conservation of biodiversity.We conclude that increased demand for biomass for bioenergy purposes may lead to a continued conversion of valuable habitats into productive lands and to intensification, which both have negative effects on biodiversity.
Elsevier,

Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition), 2013, Pages 691-699

This book chapter addresses goals 13, 14 and 15 by discussing how global declines of amphibians refer to the phenomenon of the population declines and even extinctions of amphibian species around the world.
Elsevier,

Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition), 2013, Pages 681-707

This book chapter addresses goals 13, 14, and 15 by discussing the biodiversity of mammals, covering all ranges from a shrew to the blue whale.
Elsevier,

Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition), 2013, Pages 399-410

This book chapter addresses goals 13, 14, 15 and 17 by discussing the definition of biodiversity that is both scientifically sensible and universally applicable; this is imperative to help guide the design of policy and programs for the future, as well as to make critical decisions in the present.
Plant diversity was shown to influence the N cycle, but plant diversity effects on other nutrients remain unclear. We tested whether plant species richness or the presence/absence of particular functional plant groups influences P partitioning among differently extractable pools in soil, P concentrations in soil solution, and exploitation of P resources (i.e.
Wood residues from forest harvesting or disturbance wood from wildfire and insect outbreaks may be viewed as biomass "feedstocks" for bioenergy production, to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Biomass removals of woody debris may have potential impacts on forest biodiversity and ecosystem function. Forest-floor small mammals, such as the southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi) that typically disappear after clearcut harvesting, may serve as ecological indicators of significant change in forest structure and function.
Elsevier, General and Comparative Endocrinology, Volume 157, July 2008
All organisms respond to environmental cues that allow them to organize the timing and duration of life history stages that make up their life cycles. Superimposed on this predictable life cycle are unpredictable events that have the potential to be stressful. Environmental and social stresses have deleterious effects on life history stages such as migration, reproductive function and molt in vertebrates. Global climate change, human disturbance and endocrine disruption from pollutants are increasingly likely to pose additional stresses that could have a major impact on organisms.

Soil health is the capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health. Anthropogenic reductions in soil health, and of individual components of soil quality, are a pressing ecological concern.

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