What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the whole variety of life on Earth, all species of plants and animals, their genetic variation and the habitats they are part of.  It includes not just the rare or the threatened but also the wildlife that is familiar to us in the places where we live and work.
Why does biodiversity matter?
Without biodiversity we could not survive.  The loss of too much habitat and too many species would threaten the functioning of our natural environment.
Biodiversity as part of our Natural Capital supports our lives by regulating the chemical composition of the atmosphere, soil, lakes, oceans and it can also moderate the climate.
Biodiversity provides the food we eat and can improve the quality and quantity of the water we drink.  It supplies us with medicines, clothes, fuel and building materials.
Biodiversity as vegetation can assist us in defending our land, homes and businesses from floods and erosion.  Biodiversity can also help to protect us from nutrient, dust and noise pollution by natural processes.  Animals, fungi and bacteria help to break down some of our waste and create productive soils.
Biodiversity provides a better living environment with health, recreational and inspirational benefits.  It is an important part of the tourism industry and contributes to a sense of place.  It forms the natural landscapes of mountains, woodlands, wetlands and coastlines that we value so much.
Biodiversity is appreciated by many people as is shown by the large numbers that belong to or work for nature conservation organisations, record species, follow nature trails or just enjoy wildlife programmes.
Cam Long Down in Gloucestershire
Cam Long Down, Gloucestershire


Wild daffodil
Wild daffodil


Woodland in autumn
Woodland in autumn

Biodiversity Legislation
Biodiversity Matters - this is reflected in the multitude of Visit Natural England website (opens into new browser window) legislation in place to protect it. 
Biodiversity is also protected through the planning system.
See Biodiversity Toolkit a new online recource aimed at helping developers and planners incorporate biodiversity into the planning sysytem and new development.
In 2006, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) came into force. 
Visit Natural England website (opens into new browser window) This legislation now means all local authorities and other public bodies in England and Wales have a duty to promote and enhance biodiversity in all of their various functions.
Value of Biodiversity & Ecosystems
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is a major international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity.

It demonstrates the huge significance of ecosystems and biodiversity and the threats to human welfare if no action is taken to reverse current damage and losses.
The ultimate aim of TEEB is to provide policy makers with the tools they need to incorporate the true value of ecosystem services into their decision making.

Defra also have a range of resources and guidance to their website on biodiversity and ecosystems. Find out more by visiting
the Defra webpages .
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