In previous article, we explained why some forests are not actually forests. We have already focused in previous articles on what ecosystem services are. And why we should preserve wildlife as it is. Now let’s talk about forest biodiversity.
Biodiversity is the diversity of life in a particular area or on the planet as a whole. In other words, these are all forms of living things that exist.
According to some classifications, it comes in three types: genetic, species-connected, and ecosystems.
Let’s start with the simplest – species biodiversity. Biological species are homo sapiens, gray wolf, common oak, three-toed woodpecker… According to various estimates, about 1 million biological species live on the planet Earth. Among them, there are 300 thousand species of plants and more than 600 thousand different species of fungi. And it is interesting that so far scientists have discovered only a little over a million of these species. And the other is something that has yet to be discovered.
These 11 million species are the species diversity of the planet Earth.
Let’s check the second type – genetic biodiversity. We all belong to one species called homo sapiens. However, it is obvious that we are all different. Our genes, which are different in each of us, are responsible for our differences. This is genetic biodiversity that is characteristic of all species.
E.g., let’s consider a pine tree in the woods. It looks like they are all very similar. However, some trees are larger and some are smaller. Some trees survive drought well, some do not. It is also a consequence of the genetic diversity of different trees of the same species – Scots pine.
And the third type is ecosystem biodiversity. It describes different ecosystems that exist on the planet. Forests, for example, are completely different – from pine forests to swampy alder forests. The more diverse ecosystems there are in a given area, the greater is the biodiversity of the ecosystems in a given area.
Biodiversity is the diversity of living things in a given area. This could be the biodiversity of the planet Earth, or the diversity of the Gulf countries. Or, e.g., a variety of birds in a particular forest.
Currently, forest ecosystems cover about a third of the world’s surface. However, two-thirds of currently known biological species – animals, plants, fungi – live in forests. Only in the tropical forests of the Amazon live 25% of all known terrestrial species.
So we see that forests are a kind of islands of biodiversity, a kind of shelter for the living planet Earth. Compared to many, though not all, natural ecosystems, forest biodiversity is much greater.
All species of animals and fungi that live in the forest are an integral part of forest ecosystems, no less important than the trees themselves.
Biodiversity is directly linked to human well-being. It may sound quite paradoxical, but whether a forest cat lives in a forest, depends on whether a forest will clean the air or absorb greenhouse gases.
So there are serious reasons that the protection of biodiversity has become the subject of numerous international agreements. For example, there is the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, which has been signed by most countries. Among the Gulf countries, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Iran, Qatar, and Kuwait ratified it. Saudi Arabia and Iraq accessed it (accession has the same legal effect as ratification).
Or there is the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979), which is also called Bern Convention.
Biodiversity is also the subject of numerous laws in different countries.
Anyway, for the Gulf countries, biodiversity has become not just a letters on paper. Let’s check the Arabian Gulf countries’ obligations in the next articles.