Biodiversity is the entire living organism of the world, including plants, animals and micro-organisms – their genes and their ecosystems. In order for a species to survive on earth, it has to depend on other species – this dependence is the core of biodiversity. No animal in the animal kingdom came to exist on earth forever. One of the stages of natural evolution is the extinction of species.From the beginning of the world; innumerable species have seen the face of light and have been lost into the abyss of time. Studies have shown that each species can survive on Earth for at least 5 to 10 million years. It is during this time that they evolved and gave birth to a new generation.
According to American biologist EA Norse and his colleagues, biodiversity is the diversity of all kinds of organisms and plants in all environments, from water to land. One-tenth of one billion parts of the world are home to over 50 million species of animals and plants. Bangladesh also has a wide variety of tree species and fauna. But under the pressure of a growing population- many plants, shrubs and biodiversity are on the verge of extinction. Some species have already become extinct again.
When a species suddenly becomes extinct for any reason, a huge gap is created in the natural ecosystem. And this gap takes a few million more years to fill. This blue planet of ours has already faced extinction of a large amount of biodiversity about five times. One of them is the extinction of dinosaurs. The nature of the current biodiversity extinction rate is much different than before.Biodiversity is being harmed, not only by natural disasters, but also by man-made causes. And the rate of damage is so high that they are not getting the time they need to grow new species. As a result, the void that is being created in nature is no longer being filled.
Since the early 1960s, the IUCN has been estimating the state of global biodiversity by calculating the risk of extinction of thousands of species. The IUCN regularly compiles red lists of endangered species in different regions of the world and in selected countries. Of concern is that the latest 390 species of animals in Bangladesh have been listed as endangered by the Red List (IUCN, Bangladesh 2015), with an estimated 25 percent of 1,619 species.From the IUCN Red List before 2000, we have lost 13 wildlife species from Bangladesh in the last 100 years.
Fifteen years later, Bangladesh’s latest red list warns us that 18 more species have joined the list of regional extinctions. This extensive exercise, comprising 160 Bangladeshi biologists, failed to assess 278 more species due to lack of adequate data.
According to the IUCN, about 10% of the plants are already extinct in Bangladesh, some are still in other parts of the world, but the native species have become extinct. 17 species of vertebrates have become extinct and 799 species of mammals have become extinct. Extreme climatic events, habitat loss, deforestation, etc. have threatened the biodiversity of Bangladesh. IUCN also said that by 2050, 30% of biodiversity will be extinct.
There are many threats to biodiversity loss, some direct and dynamic and others indirect. Mostly,
l Rapid and unplanned urbanization, industrialization, conversion of forests and wetlands to agriculture or other forms of land use, population pressure on rare natural resources, air and water pollution, changes in hydropower systems, over-exploitation of natural resources.
l In addition, increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase food grain production, interventions for the development of biodiversity rich areas or natural forests, uncontrolled tourism in biodiversity rich areas (such as Chittagong Hill Tracts, Cox’s Bazar and St. Martin’s Island), climate change, etc.
Biodiversity contributes significantly to the country’s economy in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, forestry and nature-based tourism. The combined contribution of these five sectors to the country’s GDP is about 25 percent. Largest mangrove forest – The Sundarbans provides livelihood and employment for half a million families. Every day, more than 60 million people depend on aquatic resources, and 60 percent of the country’s protein needs are met by fish.Wetland ecosystems (including haor, baor, beel and flood plains) provide broad economic benefits to local people, including fish and rice production. Such as raising cows, buffaloes and ducks, collecting grass and other plants etc.
A study on the economic assessment of Hakaluki Haor in north-eastern Bangladesh found that more than 80 percent of local households depended on wetland biodiversity organizations, and that many of the region’s income and livelihood opportunities were based on wetlands.Nature based tourism is becoming popular in Bangladesh and the number of visitors and tourists to the country’s popular nature based tourism destination is increasing day by day. Many livelihoods in Cox’s Bazar, St. Martin’s Island, Chittagong Hill Tracks, Sundarbans and other protected areas of the country depends on nature-dependent tourism. How much income is earned from nature tourism is still not properly calculated in the country.
Biodiversity loss is largely linked to production, Consumption and economic development. The main challenges of biodiversity conservation are,
l Limited awareness of policy makers about the value of biodiversity in the national economy,
l Disregard for environmental protection in development projects,
l Revenue-driven land use practices,
l The absence of market-based tools for degradation
l Lack of capacity of local government and limitations of private sector,
l Inequality in ownership and sharing of benefits,
l Use of biological resources and low level of knowledge
l Inadequate funding is one of the most problem with implementation.
The pressures of huge populations, including the growing demand for natural resources, are largely the main driving force of the threats described above.
Bangladesh has already signed or ratified all major biodiversity and environmental agreements, including the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). To meet the obligations of the CBD, Bangladesh has formulated the first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) in 2006 and the 2nd NBSAP (2016-2021) in 2015 to manage biodiversity conservation efforts.The second generation NBSAP has included 50 activities under 20 biodiversity conservation targets in line with the global legal biodiversity targets, formulated policies and legal frameworks on environment and biodiversity.
Therefore, the Bangladesh Department of Environment (DoE) has identified endangered animals and flora in different parts of the country as eco-critical areas.Notable places are Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf, Sonadia, St. Martin’s Island, Hakaluki and Tanguar Haor. There are also protected forests in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But even then, trees are being cut down at a regular rate and animals are losing their habitat. As a result, occasional predators move to the locality and are often killed by humans. At the same time, animals are facing food crisis. If this continues, the natural ecological balance will be lost – and people will have to suffer the consequences.
In order to protect biodiversity, it is necessary to give equal importance to all kinds of living species. From the economic point of view of ecology, biodiversity directly and indirectly benefits human society.A stable environment is related to the well-being of the human race. And it is not at all appropriate for us as intelligent creatures to rise above all these gains and losses and push other animals in the face of destruction in principle. Maintaining a natural balance is essential for the survival of the entire animal and plant world.
Biodiversity must be protected in the interest of human healthy living and normal life. We can attend in biodiversity conservation by increasing our awareness of the impact of diversity loss and increasing our knowledge of environmental issues.Biodiversity is needed for the survival of present and future generations. And so it is very important for the right number of all animal and plant species to survive in order to maintain its balance.
At the same time, the general public needs to understand the importance of conserving biodiversity and how far-reaching its effects can be if natural balance is not maintained. Individuals, organizations and governments must work together to address the complex issues of biodiversity conservation.We need to keep in mind that there is no substitute for conserving biodiversity and that it must do so in order to preserve human existence.
The author is studying at the Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh.