Biodiversity is under pressure throughout the world. The majority of the species dying out are under threat because of human activities
Throughout the entire globe, animal and plant species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. This means we are losing important ecosystems, destroying food chains, and we are running the risk of losing that very plant which holds the key to the most important medicine of the future. The Danish Government is working to put a stop to the decline in nature's diversity throughout the world. This work starts right here in Denmark.
Every day plant and animal species are disappearing from the face of the globe. We do not know how many, but we do know that species are becoming extinct between 100 to 1,000-times faster than is natural. We also know that up to one-quarter of the mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds and butterflies in the EU are endangered. In Denmark, more than 340 species have become extinct since 1850, so there are serious challenges even here.
In Denmark, there are approximately 35,000 native, introduced, or invasive species of plants and animals registered, excluding bacteria, single-celled algae, and certain lower animal groups. Many of these species are protected by legislation, primarily the Nature Conservation Act, the Hunting Act, and the Fisheries Act.
Additionally, several EU directives pertain to species protection, and these directives have been incorporated into Danish legislation. Denmark has also acceded to various international conventions that have implications for species protection. Furthermore, many species are indirectly protected because their habitats are safeguarded.
There are several levels of species protection, ranging from a complete prohibition on killing the species to restrictions on hunting and fishing seasons for the species.
Protected Species under EU's Nature Conservation Directives
Species listed in Annex IV and wild birds are protected under the EU's nature conservation directives, which include the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.
EU's nature conservation directives require EU member states to protect and preserve a range of species and habitat types that are rare, endangered, or characteristic of EU countries.
The Habitats Directive and Birds Directive have been implemented in Denmark, and the prohibitions are specified in various laws.
What is biodiversity?
The UN defines biodiversity as: "The variety of life on Earth, including the diversity of living organisms in all environments, both on land and in water, as well as the ecological interactions that organisms engage in. Biodiversity encompasses both the variation within and between species as well as the diversity of ecosystems." In other words, biodiversity includes all life on Earth, including animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and other living organisms, both on land and in water.
Ecosystems, Species, and Genes
In more detail, biodiversity consists of the diversity of the world's ecosystems/habitats, the individual species within these ecosystems, and the genetic composition of these species. These three elements contribute to providing us with food and medicine, as well as clean air and water. Additionally, biodiversity can help mitigate natural disasters, counteract pests and diseases, and contribute to climate regulation. Biodiversity can also deliver ecosystem services that form the basis of our economy, such as the pollination of our crops. The deterioration and loss of biodiversity pose a threat to these services, and if we lose species and habitats, it will impact the well-being and jobs connected to nature.
Not least of all, it is biodiversity, the diversity of life, that gives nature its shapes, colors, variations, and adaptations, ensuring the functioning of ecosystems while making nature both surprising, beautiful, and incredibly instructive.
Ecosystems encompass the interactions between living organisms and their physical surroundings. Ecosystems can be delineated at various levels. Earth itself can be considered as one vast ecosystem. A natural habitat like a forest can also be viewed as an ecosystem, which may contain other ecosystems within it or parts of other ecosystems.
Within an ecosystem, all living organisms are in various ways influenced and dependent on other organisms, as well as the climate and soil of their surroundings.
Ecosystem Services Originate from Nature
Ecosystem services refer to the services and benefits that humans receive from nature. A well-functioning ecosystem can purify water and air, maintain soil quality, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients, and provide food. Additionally, ecosystem services supply raw materials and resources used for medicines and other products.
Threats to biodiversity
Biodiversity, which is crucial for the survival of ecosystems, is under pressure, and a significant portion has already disappeared. The changing land use, driven by factors such as agricultural intensification, urbanization, construction projects in natural areas, overexploitation, pollution, climate change, and the introduction of species that compete with native flora and fauna, all harm natural ecosystems. The various causes of biodiversity decline often reinforce each other.
Nature lacks space
The lack of space and the destruction of habitats are the most significant reasons for the decline in biodiversity. Many species' habitats have disappeared, become smaller, or are disturbed due to changes in land use, such as cultivation and development. When the remaining habitats become smaller and fragmented, they become highly vulnerable to other threats. Once they are destroyed, it is often expensive and sometimes impossible to restore them.
How do we preserve biodiversity?
All wild mammals and birds are protected unless the Hunting Act allows for hunting them, or they are covered by the Wildlife Damage Regulation, which provides the possibility to apply for permission to control harmful wildlife. Protected animals and plants cannot be collected or killed, and according to the Species Preservation Regulation ("Artsfredningsbekendtgørelsen"), plants cannot be removed from the location where they grow. Additionally, all reptiles and amphibians are protected by special regulations, and these species cannot be killed, captured, transported, or handled. Species preservation also extends to some threatened plant species, including all orchids.