When we started our research on Urban Biodiversity, we found it quite difficult to define the term biodiversity and explain what we are interested in specifically in this case. We hope that this post will clarify this concept.
The term biodiversity [from Biological Diversity] has generally been used in a very comprehensive manner meaning the variability of life: composition, structure and function. It takes into account all living organisms from all sources meaning all plants and animal species (flora and fauna) with all their genetic variability, forming communities and interacting with each other and with their physical environment with all its abiotic components like water, air and soil and their associated ecological relationships (United Nations, 1992, Chmaitelly, 2007).
Biodiversity provides the ecosystem services on which all life depends. Ecosystems form habitats for all living organisms including humans, (Chmaitelly, 2007). The term ecosystem services, is popular with economists as a way of describing and quantifying the value of biodiversity (St- Clair et al., 2010): drinkable water, breathable air, arable soil, etc…
There are many other subtle services provided by biodiversity. For example wetlands form storm water retention ponds, absorb contaminants and buffer surrounding areas from flooding, trees absorb pollutants to improve air quality and reduce the effects of greenhouse gases, birds eat many of the invasive pest species, like house mice and insects etc (St- Clair et al., 2010, Pankratz et al. 2007, DeNardo et al. 2005).
Moreover abundant evidence now associates biodiversity with improved human health and well‐being, both physical and psychological, (Marzluff & Ewing, 2001). It provides a source of aesthetic inspiration with different health‐sustaining recreations (St- Clair et al., 2010).
Below are different diagrams illustrating the services that the ecosystem provide: