Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal life found in an ecosystem. Biodiversity is a measure of the level of health of an ecosystem, with healthy ecosystems having greater variety and variation in plant and animal life than unhealthy ones. Ecosystems provide much that is crucial to human survival. This includes food, fuel and energy, fodder for animals, medicines, clean water, clean air, flood/storm control, seed dispersal, pest and disease control, soil formation and maintenance.. Large habitats can also act as carbon sinks. A carbon sink is a type of "reservoir" which naturally absorbs some of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
There is a lot of pressure on biodiversity from human activity. Increases in world population have led to an increased demand for resources, which in turn has led to the removal or over-exploitation of many habitats including woodlands and oceans.
There are also many threats to biodiversity from climate change. Habitats may be lost through the increased occurrence of natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Also sea-levels rising will mean the loss of coastal and low-lying habitats. Rising temperatures may also lead to increased levels of invasive species, threatening the survival of native species.
What You Can Do
Create a survey to discover if students think their own environment is important to them and why they think it is important
Map and make a list of biodiversity in the school including potted plants, insects, hedgerows etc. - this can be your baseline survey, against which you can easily identify any increases in biodiversity levels within the school and its environs
Investigate and become familiar with your local area and the types of habitat that surround your school. Are any of these special areas of interest or protected in any way? For example are you near any Special Protected Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, etc.? You can use the internet to investigate if your school is located near any protected habitats
Bird survey - Discover what birds visit your school grounds. You can use online resources or books to identify what birds are commonly found in your locality. You can then compile images of these birds on a chart which you can mark sightings on
If your outdoor area is concrete, why not carry out a Lichen survey?
Go on a nature trail and see how many species you identify
Increase overall levels of biodiversity within the school - planting shrubs and trees, potted plants, flowerboxes
If possible, create a school garden where you can plant trees and shrubs and even grow your own vegetables