4.3 Conservation of biodiversity

4.3.1: State the arguments for preserving species and habitats.

external image fish-coral-reef.jpg

  • Life-support service value e.g. stable climate
  • Some species are keystone species, which if removed from the ecosystem can lead to many other species becoming extinct
  • Species and habitat are direct natural capital, e.g. ecotourism
  • Unknown value in the potential of the species for agriculture, medicine, genetic diversity and biotechnology
  • Nature can provide inspiration for all kinds of artworks
  • The idea of good stewardship (looking after the environment) and sustainable development for the good of future generations
  • Intrinsic value of the environment or right of individuals or species to exist
  • Direct values - can be (relatively) easily calculated
    • • goods harvested & destroyed for consumption (eating) or sale in a market
    • • generally physical commodities of some sort
    • • private goods - value accrues to the owner of the resource
    • • Examples:
      • food sources (‘heirloom varieties’ of many crops, i.e. corn/maize)
      • natural products (medicines, textiles, fertilizers, pesticides, etc)
  • Indirect values - more difficult to calculate
    • • stabilize ecosystems (negative feedback cycles)
    • • provide benefits but are not generally harvested/destroyed/sold
    • • usually services or processes which benefit everyone
    • • public goods - value accrues to society instead of individuals
    • • Examples:
      • ecosystem productivity (a.k.a. ecosystem services) i.e. soil aeration, pollination, fertilization, carbon sequestration, oxygen production ,climate regulation, etc
      • scientific or educational value
      • biological control (another example of negative feedback)
      • gene sources
      • environmental monitors
      • recreation and ecotourism
      • human health - possible future medical applications
      • rights of indigenous peoples
      • • intrinsic (ethical) value - biorights


4.3.2: Compare and contrast the role and activities of intergovernmental and non‑governmental organizations in preserving and restoring ecosystems and biodiversity.

UNEP (Governmental)
WWF (Non-Governmental)
Use of Media
  • Used for reporting progress
  • Used for raising fund and public awareness
  • Might use sensationalist tactics to gain public support
Speed of Response
  • Promotes political agreement, often take long time to response
  • Quick decision
Diplomatic Restraints
  • Works through legal frameworks and process in each country
  • Works comparatively free from diplomatic consideration
Political Influence
  • The UN can reach international agreements
  • Work to raise political awareness

4.3.3: State and explain the criteria used to design protected areas.

  • size - larger space allows for larger populations and gene pools, and a wider variety of species
  • shape - round is better than all other shapes because it reduces the edge effect
  • edge effects - less edge is better; edge creates differences in the structure of an ecosystem, called an ecotone (an area where 2 habitats meet), which influences what may successfully live there.
  • corridors - provide safe passage between protected areas
  • proximity - if protected areas are close to other protected areas, they are more effective than isolated islands

http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Island_Biogeography.html (Background Knowledge)

4.3.4 Evaluate the success of a named protected area.


4.3.5 Discuss and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the species-based approach to conservation.

ESS Topic 4.3 - Conservation of Biodiversity.doc
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