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Endangered biodiversity

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Eryngium planum.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Delisle)

The loss of biological diversity has become a challenge for the entire planet. The urgency felt among the scientific community, the political decision-makers and the public at large is due to the fact that Earth is in the throes of a mass extinction phenomenon. The rate of extinction of living species has increased 1,000 times with respect to the estimated average rate over the course of the Earth’s evolution. Other major waves of extinctions have swept the planet in the distant past but they were caused by natural phenomena whereas the current crisis is due mainly to human activities. Untold numbers of species are condemned to extinction due to their over-exploitation, the destruction of their natural habitats, global environmental changes, invasive species and pollution.

Protecting biodiversity: A challenge of global importance

Specialists generally agree that 25 to 50% of the world’s species will become extinct by the end of the century unless the trend is reversed. The heritage of billions of years of evolution may thus disappear. Preservation of biodiversity is a shared responsibility among all of Earth’s peoples. It is also a responsibility of the current generations towards those of the future. The disappearance of biodiversity not only threatens the integrity of the biosphere but also the survival of our own species. Reducing losses of biodiversity is an essential requisite for sustainable development. If we fail to act, humanity will lose forever countless opportunities to reap the potential benefits of biodiversity.

Consequently humankind is in a race against time for the protection of the world’s biodiversity, which is disappearing at a catastrophic rate. Each country and each society must contribute to the preservation of our natural heritage. This is not only a moral obligation but also a necessity since, in addition to provisioning services resulting in food, new medicines and industrial processes, ecosystems also provide essential regulating services (water and air purification, climate regulation, erosion control, pollination) as well as socio-cultural services linked to leisure and artistic activities, tourism, spirituality, etc.

These texts have been provided by the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre.

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