Biodiversity has been defined by the International Committee for Bird Preservation as ‘the total variety of life on Earth.’ [It can mean the range of species at a site, the size of the gene pool, or the number of different ecosystems on the planet.] It is important for sustainable development because it represents the wealth of biological resources available to us and future generations for food, clothing, medicine and housing. Currently biodiversity is being reduced by habitat destruction, pollution and the introduction of foreign plants and animals (e.g. in Britain, where American grey squirrels are replacing the local red squirrels.)
Reducing natural habitat destruction and promoting co-operation between countries are good ways of safeguarding the biodiversity that remains. Also, in order to maintain the Earth’s biodiversity, we need to integrate concerns into economic policies and take measures to protect areas, habitats and species. This is outlined by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit Convention on Biological Diversity. Several nations have signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, which forms an international effort to conserve plant and animal species. Agenda 21 calls for governments to undertake national biodiversity assessments and formulate strategies to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity.