About Biodiversity

Biodiversity is short for “biological diversity”, and used to describe the variety of life. It includes all species of plants and animals; everything from the smallest bacteria to the blue whale, the habitats which support these organisms and the complex ecosystems of which they are all a part.

Biodiversity provides us with every essential for life; fresh water, clean air, and fertile soil. It is responsible for the distinct characteristics of natural areas, and also provides us with huge economic benefits.

Conserving biodiversity is key to achieving sustainable development. Loss of biodiversity affects the ability of natural systems to adapt to change and results in a decline in the resources available for humans to use. We also have a moral obligation to hand on to the next generation an environment no less rich than the one we ourselves inherited. In the UK we lost over 100 species in the 20th century including 5% of our butterflies, 7% of our dragonflies and more than 2% of our fish and mammals. Protecting and enhancing biodiversity is in all of our interests.  

Biodiversity Action Planning

Biodiversity is disappearing at an ever-increasing rate, both globally and in the UK . In 1992, the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro.  Over 150 countries including the United Kingdom signed the Convention on Biological Diversity. This was the first treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation, requiring governments to take a wide range of actions to halt and if possible reverse, the steady decline of species and natural habitats. As a result of this the UK Biodiversity Action Plan was published, setting out national biodiversity objectives and producing action plans for habitats and species at risk.

In order for the national priorities and targets to be met it is essential that action is taken at a local level. Local partnerships were set up across the country producing Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs). These identify priority habitats and species in each local area, setting targets for their conservation and outlining the mechanisms for achieving these targets.

The Durham Biodiversity Action Plan reviews the status of wildlife in Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham and sets out a framework for action. The action we take for biodiversity is not only important locally but essential for meeting national conservation goals.