Biodiversity is measure of health of ecosystem

Biodiversity is a country's sovereign property of its people. Now, humans need to forge a peace pact with nature.

ByNaorem Munal Meitei

Updated 22 May 2024, 5:01 am


Today, May 22 is observed as International Day for Biological Diversity with this year's theme, 'Building a shared future for all life'. This theme advocates the harmony between mankind and nature to reduce biodiversity loss. One thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on a healthy and vibrant ecosystem for our food, water, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy etc.

Biodiversity is the variety of all living beings on earth. It is the different plants, animals and microorganisms, their genes, ecosystem and the biome of the entire planet. Biodiversity is a common good, an invaluable legacy formed over a course of millions of years and a capital to transmit to future generations.

Biodiversity is the foundation of life. It coins the economies like agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism, among others. By halting biodiversity loss, we are investing for pristineness in people, their future and well-being.

Biodiversity is the living fabric which underpins human wellbeing in the present and future and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike. Biodiversity is like a large tank, from which humans can draw food, pharmaceutical products and even livelihood. Biodiversity is the insurance for the lives on the Planet.

Biodiversity is the measure of the health of the ecosystem. Preserving biodiversity and human development must go hand-in-hand. Once there was only a choice between development and biodiversity but now we realize that we cannot separate these two worlds any longer.

Biodiversity loss jeopardizes nature’s vital contributions to humanity, endangering economies, livelihoods, food security, cultural diversity and quality of life and constitutes a major threat to global peace and security.


Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build our civilizations. Over 82 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants. Fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people. As many as 80 per cent of people in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare. But loss of biodiversity has given throes to living beings.

Biodiversity provides the building blocks for livelihood. The loss of genes and individuals threatened survival of species. In spite of the importance given to biodiversity conservation, genetic erosion continues globally. Twelve per cent of birds, 21 per cent of mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians, 27 per cent of coral reefs and 35 per cent of conifers and cycads face extinction. According to IUCN, over 47677 species may soon disappear.

Climate change, pollution, habitat loss, over- exploitation, invasive species and urbanization are the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Over 90 per cent of Biodiversity loss is due to over exploitation and habitat loss thereby insisting us for reuse, reduction and recycling.

Forests have an important role in conservation of biodiversity. But global loss of forests is about the size of 3 football grounds per minute and 15 billion trees cut every year. But a fully grown tree can produce oxygen for 10 persons and can store 1 ton of CO2. Nearly 9 per cent of all known tree species are already at risk of extinction. Woody tree species are able to shift pole ward with changing climatic conditions. Hence, the conservation of forests is vital to protect biodiversity and mitigate climate change. On the other hand, forests are again threatened by the impacts of climate change.

The rate of biodiversity loss is also about one species per 20 minutes and about 100 species in a day from the earth. A species once lost is lost forever and when a species is lost, it affects another species and the whole ecosystem.

To halt this decline, it’s vital to transform people’s role, action and relationship with biodiversity. In fact, research confirms that when indigenous communities control the land, biodiversity flourishes and the need arises to incorporate the indigenous wisdom on  environment into global policy making.


India is a mega-diverse house for around 10 per cent of the world's wildlife. The country with 2.4 per cent of the global area, accounts for 7.8 per cent of all recorded biodiversity. There are about 45,000 species of plants, which is about 7 per cent of the global total of which 33 per cent are endemic. There are 15,000 flowering plants, which is 6 per cent of the world's total. We also have 136 species of bamboo. There are also 91,000 animal species, representing about 6.5 per cent of the world's fauna. These include 60,000 insect species, 2,456 fish species, 500 molluscs, 1230 bird species, 372 mammals, over 440 reptiles and 200 amphibians with largest concentration in Western Ghats.  Livestock diversity of 400 breeds of sheep, 27 of cattle and 22 of goats found in India.

North-east India with the occurrence of over 1200 species of plants and animals fascinates us. These species comprising of 52 edible fruits and 50 medicinal plants, 75 each of woody plants, 55 orchids, 50 species of soil and airborne fungi, five rotifers, 169 nematode worms, nearly 500 insects including 65 species of silk moths, 25 each of edible insects, lady bird beetles, aphids, parasitoids and 150 each of thrips and butterflies besides 120 species of fishes including 29 in ornamental forms. It is a home of 17 crop species that represent 47 per cent of the crop diversity available in the country.

Manipur with two world’s hotspots is known for its richness in biodiversity including endemic flora and fauna. Our biodiversity includes about 4000 angiosperms, 1200 medicinal plants, 34 species of edible fungi, about 500 orchids, 55 species of bamboo, 695 birds, 160 fish species, 55 migratory birds and multitude of butterflies, insects. There are 145 medicinal plants that the healers use for treating 59 ailments.

Manipur is again the home of six species of hornbill, four species of pheasants including Nongin and flyway of Amur Falcon. The state has Protected Area Network over about 3.7 per cent of the geographical area. Manipur Zoological garden houses about 50 endemic, endangered or rare species. In the state orchidarium, about 343 orchid species are conserved. But now, the whole of our rich biodiversity is at risk.

Biodiversity is a country's sovereign property of its people. Now, humans need to forge a peace pact with nature. Therefore for the sake of mother earth and the future generation, let’s save our biodiversity today because tomorrow may be too late.

(The views expressed are personal)


First published:


ecosystembiodiversityInternational Day for Biological Diversity

Naorem Munal Meitei

Naorem Munal Meitei

Environmentalist. May reach the author at nmunall@yahoo.in


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