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.

This viewpoint emphasizes gendered perspectives and reflects on gender roles for sustainability-focused governance. It argues that when considering gender in this context, not only equity, or power-plays between genders are at stake; in addition, for effective ocean governance, an irreducible contribution of female voices is necessary. Some key contributions of women in the field of ocean governance-related research are described as examples. If women, for instance, are not included in fisheries management, we miss the complete picture of social-ecological linkages of marine ecosystems.

Elsevier,

Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Volume 33, August 2018

Efforts to protect nature are facing a growing crisis, one that often revolves around the burgeoning impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity and ecosystems. Potential solutions are possible but they will involve serious trade-offs and the confrontation of deep misconceptions. Here, I identify some time-critical tactics to aid scientists in informing and influencing the global infrastructure debate.

This article endeavours to contribute to the growing body of scholarship on SDG linkages by placing at the centre of its focus SDG 14 on the “conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” This article conceptualises the intricate interconnections between SDG 14 and other Goals based on the diverse benefits provided to humankind by marine ecosystems (in other words, through an ecosystem services lens).
When biochar (BC) ages in soil, its properties change substantially: cation exchange capacity (CEC), surface area and porosity increase and water repellency decreases, consequently affecting the interactions with soil microorganisms. Activation of BC by organic acids may be regarded as artificial aging. Here, we study the effect of acid-activated BCs on soil microbial enzyme activities (EA) in comparison to several different control treatments without activated BC. A greenhouse pot experiment was conducted using a vineyard soil treated with multiple soil additives (four replications).
This study assessed the carbon (C) budget and the C stocks in major compartments of the soil food web (bacteria, fungi, protists, nematodes, meso- and macrofauna) in an arable field with/without litter addition. The C stocks in the food web were more than three times higher in topsoil (0–10 cm) compared to subsoil (>40 cm). Microorganisms contained over 95% of food web C, with similar contributions of bacteria and fungi in topsoil. Litter addition did not alter C pools of soil biota after one growing season, except for the increase of fungi and fungal feeding nematodes in the topsoil.
In spite of the growing attention towards the overall quality of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), most empirical studies so far have narrowly focused their assessments on specific natural or social features and governing structures. In response, this study analyzed multi-use MPAs in the eelgrass restoration site in Hinase, Okayama, Japan in their environmental, economic and social dimensions. Considering changes in time and space as well as internal and external influences, the study faced many difficulties in dealing with the dynamics of MPA environments.
Deforestation worldwide could have important consequences for diet quality and human nutrition given the numerous ecosystem services that are provided by forests and biodiverse landscapes. Yet, empirical research assessing the links between deforestation and diets is lacking. In this study, we examined the association between deforestation and diet diversity among children using geolocated Demographic and Health Survey data for 33,777 children across 15 countries of sub-Saharan Africa coupled with remotely-sensed data on forest cover loss.
This article highlights the winning proposals of the third edition of the Elsevier Foundation Green & Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. The winning proposals were chosen for their innovative green chemistry aspects and their large positive impact on the environment, contributing to SDGs 2, 12, 13 and 15.
With increasing pressure on chemical solutions to pests and diseases from the public, and growing resistance from plants as well as the risk to bees and other beneficial insects, farmers urgently need viable alternatives. Farmers Weekly talked to a UK farmer who is relying on biological controls to keep his oilseed rape healthy and yields profitable. This helps support SDG 12 - responsible consumption and production.
Picture showing different livelihoods in the wetland studied

Although wetlands are known to provide vital ecosystem services, the current state of wetlands in Ethiopia in terms of their ecosystem service components remains poorly understood. Wetlands located in the UNESCO Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve have been highly degraded, but possess highly valuable resources. Therefore, this study sought to assess the major ecological states and identify the main ecosystem services (ESs), along with local people's perceptions of wetland management. Nine wetlands were selected from pristine/reference, agricultural and urban land uses of the Lake Tana area.

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