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What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity / biological diversity refers to the variety of life on earth and the natural patterns that it forms. This includes the range of landscapes and ecosystems found on the planet, the communities of organisms found within them; the variety of animal, plant and microorganism species of which these communities consist; and the genetic variation within each species.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity provides a range of environmental, social and economic benefits, which are referred to as ecosystem services (essential natural services for our survival) to include:

  • Provisioning services are the products obtained from ecosystems to include food, fresh water, clean air, energy, fiber and medicines.
  • Regulating services are the benefits derived from the regulation of ecosystem processes, for example, climate regulation, natural hazard regulation, water purification, waste management and pollination.
  • Habitat services highlight the importance of ecosystems to provide habitat for migratory species and to maintain the viability of gene-pools.
  • Cultural services include non-material benefits that people obtain from ecosystems, which are crucial for our well-being to include recreational resources and aesthetic values.

However, biodiversity is threatened by many factors, including habitat loss, pollution, climate change and invasive alien species. The loss of biodiversity affects these essential ecosystem services. We all have a responsibility to protect biodiversity. Government, businesses, local communities, landowners and individuals all have a role in protecting biodiversity.

What is a Local Biodiversity Action Plan?

Since signing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janerio in 1992, the UK has committed to halting the loss of biodiversity. In response to the CBD, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan was published in 1994, which proposed that Local Biodiversity Action Plans should be prepared to implement the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. As part of this obligation, Council established the Foyle Biodiversity Partnership, a local partnership of government departments, community and voluntary organisations to produce a Derry & Strabane Local Biodiversity Action Plan. This plan is now out of date and we have been working with our partners to produce a revised list of 14 Northern Ireland local priority species and habitats, which include rare and declining species and habitats that require action.

The protection and enhancement of the district’s biodiversity, will form part of the development of an overall ’Green Infrastructure Network’ of greenspaces, landscapes and natural elements. This plan will be launched in 2016.