Nature loss: Major report to highlight ‘natural and human emergency’

Scientists and government officials meet this week in Paris to finalise a key assessment on humanity’s relationship with nature.

KingfisherGetty Images

The Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, will issue the first report of this type since 2005. It will detail the past losses and future prospects for nature and humans. One author says the report will highlight the “social and ecological emergency” the world is now facing.

“I would say that this is the most comprehensive assessment on the state of nature and humanity’s place in it.” – Prof Sir Robert Watson, who chairs IPBES.

What exactly is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is just a sciencey word for all the amazing variety of life that can be found on Earth, their interactions with each other and with their environments.

Image caption Pollination is one of the key services that nature provides to humans Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

It encompasses everything from genes, through individual species such as orang-utans, through communities of creatures and then the whole ecological complexes of which they are part.

Why does biodiversity matter to me?

Well, the air you breathe depends on plants producing oxygen, and without bees to pollinate crops, we wouldn’t have so many things to eat. Biodiversity helps provide and maintain our fresh water, fertile soils, our medicines, a stable climate and gives us places for recreation.

All species are interconnected and often depend on each other. So while fungi help maintain the soils of the forest, these healthy soils help plants to grow, insects then carry pollen from one plant to another, animals can eat the plants, and the forest as a whole provides a home for animals.

Losing one species in this chain may not seem like much but each loss weakens the connections that benefit us all. MORE

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