The importance of biodiversity, Particularly looking at mass meat farming & deforestation and the effects this has on biodiversity
You may have heard the term ‘biodiversity’ before, but may not totally understand the true definition of what it is and why it’s important. Biodiversity is a shortened term of the words biological and diversity that incorporates and serves the connections and relationships between all living things. That includes, plants, animals, microorganisms, fungi, etc.
What many may not know, is that the biodiversity of a place, area, or ecosystem can actually be measured. It entails creating inventories of all plants, animals, and other species within a given area. This process is known as creating a Biodiversity Index; which can then be analyzed to find out what level of biodiversity is present. While this process can be time consuming, it’s an incredibly useful tool in getting a better understanding of an area and what species have a potential risk of being harmed by climate change, development, and natural disasters, just to name a few.
Typically, the more species an area has, where all are working together in a united ecosystem, the higher the level of biodiversity. A high level of biodiversity is essential to the functioning and continuation of life all over the planet.
We continue our lives every day without realizing how many incredible functions are occurring in the natural world around us; even just outside or door. Biodiversity is arguably one of the most important environmental factors to protect as populations grow, development and sprawl continues, and climate change poses many threats we can not totally be prepared for. If we imagine biodiversity around the world collapsing entirely, it would be the end for human life, and all life as we know it.
That leads us to one of the largest influences to the decline in biodiversity worldwide: agriculture and farming. Particularly, the production and harvesting of livestock. It is estimated that 80% of all agricultural land is used for raising and farming livestock. This might not sound concerning or surprising at all, but it is one of the leading causes of species extinction, environmental stress, and loss in overall biodiversity of species.
Our cultures used to be centered around farming and slower living; everyone had a garden and typically raised their own animals for consumption, or purchased from a local merchant who did. When the Industrial Revolution began, we started to outsource this to larger corporations who could raise, harvest, process, and distribute meat, poultry, and dairy to our growing population. Our population who was now working more, and homesteading less.
This lead to a massive, and ever-growing clearing of forests and purchasing of land in order to raise animals for agriculture. Unimaginable miles and acres of land all over the world have been clear cut, filled in, leveled out, and developed for the purpose of consumers, profit, and supply and demand.
This loss in habitat fractured and destroyed nearly all of the vast and rich biodiversity in these areas. However, even more than loss of habitat, agriculture is famous for another factor that harms biodiversity: pollution and contamination.
Due to the large demand for agricultural goods and services that keep our society going, there are few laws that exist to protect the remaining biodiversity is surrounding areas. Thus, pollution in the form of industrial chemicals, animal waste, and emissions pour into the surrounding environments. They leach into groundwater, ecosystems, and soils; making these areas toxic to most life.
Biodiversity is a delicate balance, a dance so to speak, between all species. It does not take much to throw the balance off entirely. What can we do? Share the knowledge. Perhaps share this post. Keep up to date with agricultural news and politics, especially at a local level. We have the power to protect the biodiversity that keeps life going.