What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variety of life forms, also referred to as the “web of life”. This includes: variety between different plant and animal species; the sheer amount of different life forms; variety within one species – for example local varieties of apples and other orchard fruits; variety of whole ecosystems, such as woodlands, wetlands and grasslands.

Biodiversity can be described as the “Wealth of Wildlife” that surrounds us – and we use this phrase in our logo.

Biodiversity is important, not only because nature provides us with resources such as food, medicine and materials, but also because it provides us with ecological services, such as flood protection and clean air. Biodiversity also has aesthetic and cultural value for recreation and enjoyment.

From local to international

During the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 150 nations – among them the United Kingdom -signed the Convention on Biological Diversity. This states that the Government shall: “Rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species”.

On a national level, the UK Action Plan for biodiversity was launched in 1994. Since then, working groups produced and reviewed action plans for nationally important species and habitats. These were reviewed in 2007, and the UKBAP was replaced by the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework’ in July 2012. There is still a list of UK Priority habitats and species, but much of the work is now focussed at a country level.

The species and habitats on the UK Priority List form the basis of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s action plans, and lists of important local species. The County’s Biodiversity Action Plans have been put together by a local steering group, incorporating local authorities, conservation organisations and statutory bodies and were launched in 2000 and last reviewed in 2008/09.

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