The Importance of Biodiversity Conservation

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The assignment below was completed according to the guidelines from my instructor with the help of Professor Andrea of Princeton University, Department of Ecology. Special thanks to him for his contribution.

Biodiversity Conservation


The term biodiversity is synonymous with the state of variety in life forms from as low as the microscopic to the huge ones. In other words, it is totality ecosystem, species composition, and genetic constitution in a specific region. This defines the wealth of life on the planet earth which is the outcome of many years of evolution. In the history of human interaction with nature, alteration of an ecosystem and biotic resources has been linked to development, particularly the era of civilization. However, exploitation is limited by the fact that resources need time to replenish. This brings in the question of the rate of extraction and how it compares with that of replacement. As a result, the concept of biodiversity conservation which has gained popularity in the recent past has benefits which cannot be overlooked. The main goal of conservation if global sustainability characterized by wise use. For the better understanding of this idea of conservation of life forms, the history of the concept of biodiversity, its benefits, challenges and recommendations shall be discussed in this piece.

History of biodiversity conservation

Human development has for many years been a constant process, but the resource base has been diminishing following over-exploitation in form of excessive cutting of trees, mining, fishing, and grazing. It is humans’ nature to expand their wealth and the only way of achieving this is by increasing the number of resources they acquire from the ecosystem (Kearns, 2010). Development was anthropocentric prior to 1980s when “biodiversity” and “conservation” were popularized. Biotic resources were considered to have a perpetual replenishment; a misinformed belief among elites. Conservationists refuted this notion by suggesting the need to wisely use available resources. In the process of trying to prevent the extinction of biological resources, another related concept “preservation” was coined (Kearns, 2010). However, the challenge with this one is that it acknowledges non-use as the means of reducing or preventing loss of species on the face of the earth. As long as humans thrive on this planet, the will always need resources to meet their basic needs which include access to proper food, clothing, and shelter. Therefore, preservation as the strategy of limiting loss of species could never work unless the species in question is nearing extinction. Conservation was widely agreed upon compared to preservation (Rands et al., 2010).

With conservation as the mainstream policy for biodiversity protection, the idea of sustainable development emerged. The purpose was to have a kind of growth in human society which does not interfere with the integrity of biodiversity especially in meeting the need of generations in the present and those to come (Kearns, 2010). The biodiversity conservation policy was adopted to curb self-centered practice which had caused massive loss of species. One thing which was discouraging biologist was that many species were getting extinct even before they are recorded in the books of species identified.

Human expansion and population growth encouraged encroachment into the habitats belonging to other species. For instance, forest clearance destroyed homes belonging to some animals leading to human-animal conflict. Both sides were on the receiving ends of the harmful effects of over-exploitation of biotic resources. The only way of solving this problem was by ensuring development was characterized by sustainability despite the contention from few selfish individuals (Kearns, 2010). A form of human progress which factor in the need to ensure the integrity of the biodiversity including components such as genetic, species and ecosystem aspects are not compromised. The invention referred to variation in genetic constitution between species as genetic diversity and difference in species variety as species diversity (Kearns, 2010). The last one on ecosystem diversity was difficult to establish since there are no limits which can be used to divide the ecosystem. This one was mainly categorized mainly into two; aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems which were further subdivided into other smaller divisions depending on characteristics unique to them. The ultimate goal was to ensure species are not pushed to extinction by humans, who had proved to be the most destructive of all dwellers of the planet earth (Rands et al., 2010).

Importance of biodiversity in realizing global sustainability

When compared to other issues relating to sustainability, biodiversity loss is not reversible. Once a species gets extinct, tracing another one with a similar attribute is such a daunting challenge or even impossible (Rands et al., 2010). There is no human invention efficient enough to replace a species which ceased to thrive because of human activities. Chances of recovering from extinction are equal to zero. The problem escalates if the interrelations between species are considered. Despite the human attempt to understand how different life forms are related or interact in nature, there is no guarantee that anyone will get to understand them totally. However, what scientists know is that loss of species triggers the extinction of other organisms which depend on them for food and shelter. For example, destruction of marine forests and corals result in the death of species of marine animals including, but not limited to fish, mollusks and microbes (Shah, 2014).

Biodiversity conservation is important because of the interest to humans’ access to plants for food. Thousands of species of plants act as food for humans and others as supplements for diets across the world (Shah, 2014). Without vegetation, the problem of malnutrition and hunger sets in leading to death and particularly in the underdeveloped world. Development of human society in the history of civilization is linked to the production of surplus in farms. Therefore, sustainability across the globe can be difficult is edible species of flora since they form the foundation of all other lives since they are primary producers.

Another significant benefit humans draw from biodiversity conservation is the supply of medicine. Many, if not all, human medicines are derived from plants, fungi, and vertebrates such as snakes (Shah, 2014). As human life expectancy increases in most parts of the world, it is worth noting that biodiversity conservation has been critical in the realization of this goal. While other factors have contributed to this long life on earth, there is much to mention on the benefit of ensuring the integrity of biodiversity is respected by all regardless of their social ranking.

Challenges Limiting Biodiversity Conservations

Ecosystems ability to support many life forms is paramount to the survival of humans on the planet earth. Many benefits are drawn from the conservation of biodiversity. Unfortunately, the objective of ensuring gene, ecosystems, and species variations are maintained faces a number of threats (Kearns, 2010). Issues affecting biodiversity also retard global sustainability.

The first challenge is human population growth which is exerting a lot of pressure on biological resources. As the number of humans on earth increase, resource base and particularly plants and animals keeps shrinking at an alarming rate (Rands et al., 2010). With technological advances, depletion of native forest species for medicinal and fuel purposes has become more pronounced than it was in the past few decades. This trend will continue as long as there is no effective policies to curb wanton deforestation.

Introduction of alien species is another huge challenge conservation of life forms is facing. According to Rands et al. (2010), exotic species of both plants and animals threaten other species because they use resources maximally. This tells why other species get extinct and the invasive ones thrive. In most cases, they produce chemical compounds which kill other species in the environment and themselves get sufficient resources for their exponential increase in both number and size.

Another major issue which leads to ineffectual biodiversity conservation is the land dereliction resulting from intensified human activities including mining, quarrying and construction activities (Rands et al., 2010). Destruction of habitats affects the whole process of conservation because it is impossible to restore nature to its pristine state and at the same time achieve sustainable development.


In summary, human livelihood is directly tied to uncompromised biodiversity and biological processes. Numerous benefits are derived from nature and particularly biotic resources. However, when the integrity of variation and distribution of life forms is compromised, human survival and sustainable development are adversely affected. Without a well-stipulated strategy, the threat to biodiversity will continue to emanate leading to serious problems in the future. The way forward in ensuring proper conservation of biodiversity is achieved is through policy formulation and implementation. In most cases, policies are formulated, but the lack of good execution plan for conservation, extinction of species continues to occur. Also, humans do not seem to take the issue with equal gravity and result in exacerbation of the issue of life form loss. It is high time humans reconsider their actions before the planet earth becomes an inhabitable place.


Kearns, C. A. (2010). Conservation of Biodiversity. Retrieved October 23, 2018, from

Rands, M. R. W., Adams, W. M., Bennun, L., Butchart, S. H. M., Clements, A., Coomes, D., Vira, B. (2010). Biodiversity Conservation: Challenges Beyond 2010. Science, 329(5997), 1298–1303.

Shah, A. (2014). Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares? Retrieved October 23, 2018, from

October 05, 2023

Environment Science

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