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Conservation of Biodiversity

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What is Conservation of Biodiversity?

The variability of life on Earth is called Biodiversity. Biodiversity takes into account all the living organisms present on Earth. Healthy and good biodiversity indicate a healthy and good ecosystem. Hence, biodiversity is very important. A healthy ecosystem also includes the availability of pure water, pure air, healthy land, a good climate, and the availability of nutrients on Earth. Therefore, biodiversity conservation plays an important role in the quality of life of all living organisms.

The protection and management of biodiversity in obtaining sustainable development of resources are called Biodiversity conservation.

There are three major objectives of Biodiversity conservation:

  • Preservation of the diversity of species.

  • Sustainability of species and ecosystem.

  • Maintaining life-supporting and essential ecological processes.

What is Loss of Biodiversity?

A number of factors like pollution, erosion, evolution, urbanization, industrialization, population, and depletion lead to the loss of biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity is very harmful to the ecosystem as it indicates either loss of species, or reduction of species in a natural habitat, or both of them on a global level. Loss of biodiversity has a poor impact on the ecosystem. Loss of biodiversity directly impacts the ecosystem and food chains in it. It affects agriculture and weakens the resistance to natural disasters like floods, drought, etc. 

Definition of Biodiversity Conservation

“Protection, restoration, and management of biodiversity in order to derive sustainable benefits for present and future generations.”. Or, it can also be defined as, “the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a defined area.”.

Conservation of Biodiversity

Biodiversity conservation refers to the protection, preservation, and management of ecosystems and natural habitats and ensuring that they are healthy and functional.

The three main objectives of Biodiversity Conservation are as follows-

  • To protect and preserve species diversity.

  • To ensure sustainable management of the species and ecosystems.

  • Prevention and restoration of ecological processes and life support systems.

Biodiversity Conservation Methods

Two types of methods are employed to conserve biodiversity. They are- In situ conservation and Ex-situ conservation.

Following are some of the ways through which Biodiversity can be conserved:

  • In-situ Conservation

  • Ex-situ Conservation

In Situ Conservation

In Situ Conservation refers to the preservation and protection of the species in their natural habitat. It means the conservation of genetic resources in natural populations of plant or animal species. In situ conservation involves the management of biodiversity in the same area where it is found.

In situ, biodiversity conservation has many advantages

  • It preserves species as well as their natural habitat.

  • It ensures protection to a large number of populations.

  • It is economic and a convenient method of conservation

  • It doesn’t require species to adjust to a new habitat.

Different methods of In-situ conservation include biosphere reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, biodiversity hotspots, gene sanctuary, and sacred groves.

It is defined as the conservation of species within their natural habitat, where the natural ecosystem is protected and maintained.

In-situ conservation possesses numerous advantages. Some of the important advantages of in-situ conservation are as follows:

  • It is a cost-effective and convenient way of biodiversity conservation.

  • Various living organisms can be conserved at the same time.

  • They can evolve better and can easily get adapted to various environmental conditions.

  • In-situ conservation occurs in places like national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and biosphere reserves.

Biosphere Reserves

These are national governments nominated sites, large areas (often up to 5000 square km) of an ecosystem where the traditional lifestyle and natural habitat of the inhabitants of that ecosystem are protected. They are mostly open to tourists and researchers.

Example- Sundarban, Nanda Devi, Nokrek, and Manas in India.

National Parks

These are limited reserves maintained by the government for the conservation of wildlife as well as the environment. Human activities are prohibited in national parks and they are solely dedicated to the protection of natural fauna of the area. They mostly occupy an area of 100-500 square km. There are a total of 104 national parks in India, right now. The national parks may even be within a biosphere reserve. These are small reserves that are protected and maintained by the government. Its boundaries are well protected, where human activities such as grazing, forestry, habitat, and cultivation are restricted. 

Example- Kanha National Park, Gir National Park, Kaziranga National Park, and so on.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

Wildlife Sanctuaries are protected areas meant only for the conservation of wild animals. A few human activities such as cultivation, wood collection, and other forest product collection are allowed here, but they must not interfere with the conservation of the animals. Tourist visits are also allowed in these areas. There are a total of 551 wildlife sanctuaries in India. These are the places where only wild animals can be found. Certain human activities like timber harvesting, cultivation, collection of woods, and other forest products are permitted unless they interfere with the conservation project. Recreation tourism is also permitted.

Example- Ghana Bird Sanctuary, Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary, Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, etc.

Biodiversity Hotspots

A biodiversity hotspot are the areas of conservation where there is strictly a minimum of 1500 species of vascular plants and a habitat that has lost its 70% cover. These are protected areas for various purposes where the wildlife, inhabitant lifestyle, and domesticated plants and animals are conserved. Tourist and research activities are allowed.

Example- The Himalayas, The Western Ghats, The North East, and The Nicobar Islands.

Gene Sanctuary

Gene sanctuary is a conservation area reserved only for plants. India has its only gene sanctuary set up in Garo Hills of Meghalaya for the conservation of wild species of Citrus. Plans to open more such sanctuaries are underway. 

Sacred Groves

Sacred Groves are conserved areas for wildlife protected by communities due to religious beliefs. It is mostly a part of the forest where its wildlife is given complete protection.

Ex Situ Conservation

Ex Situ Conservation means conservation of life outside their natural habitat or place of occurrence. It is the method in which part of the population or the entire endangered species is taken from its natural habitat which is threatened and breeding and maintaining of these species take place in artificial ecosystems. These artificial ecosystems could be zoos, nurseries, botanical gardens, etc. The living environments are altered in these conservation sites, so there are fewer survival struggles like scarcity of food, water, or space. Ex-situ conservation of biodiversity consists of breeding and maintenance of endangered species using artificial environments like zoos, nurseries, botanical gardens, gene banks, etc. The competition for food, water, and space among the organisms is low.

Advantages of Ex Situ Conservation Include

  • Essential life-sustaining conditions like climate, food availability, veterinary care can be altered and are under human control.

  • Artificial breeding methods can be introduced leading to successful breeding and creating many more offspring of the species.

  • The species can be protected from poaching and population management can be efficiently done.

  • Gene techniques can be applied to increase the population of the species and they can again be reintroduced into the wild.

Biodiversity Conservation Strategies

  • Conservation of Ecosystems- The intent of the conservation of biodiversity is to provide long term viability to the ecosystems. It is to make sure that ecological integrity is intact. The landscapes of the region which have undergone historical or evolutionary deterioration can be reinstated. The threats can be removed and the ecosystems should be able to continue with ecological processes. 

  • Reverse the decline of species- According to this strategy, the aim of conservation is to restore the population of declined species in a particular ecosystem. 

  • Conservation of all biological aspects- This strategy aims at giving cover and conserving food, livestock, microbial population, agricultural stock including plants and animals.

  • Efficient utilization of natural resources.

  • Strict laws on deforestation and preventions of deforestation by every means.

  • Poaching and killing animals in the wild should be prevented.

  • Creating public awareness about conservation of biodiversity and its importance. 

  • Longer time and breeding activity of the animals are provided.

  • The breeding of species in captivity is reintroduced in the wild.

  • Genetic techniques are used to preserve endangered species.

Need for Biodiversity Conservation

Various types of conservation methods ensure a healthy ecosystem. A healthy ecosystem means a clean and healthy environment, smooth running food chains, availability of resources, and so on.

Human beings are also majorly dependent on the environment for basic necessities and wellbeing. We are interdependent on a variety of species of plants and animals for a living. Hence it is very important to conserve these species and their ecosystems which are threatened by many human activities.

A threat to biodiversity poses a threat to humankind. It can be the cause of various grave problems like pollution, habitat loss, resource exploitation, climate change, species extinction, disease outbreak, and so on.

For economic and various life support reasons, it is very important to protect and preserve biodiversity.

Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation

Following are some of the important strategies for biodiversity conservation:

  • Conservation of all food varieties, timber plants, livestock, microbes, and agricultural animals should be done.

  • Identification and conservation of all the economically important organisms should be done.

  • Preservation of unique ecosystems should be done.

  • Efficient utilization of resources should be done.

  • Prevention of poaching and hunting of wild animals should be done.

  • Development of the reserves and protected areas should be done carefully.

  • Reduction in the levels of pollutants should be done on the environment.

  • Prohibition of deforestation should be followed.

  • Strict environmental laws should be followed.

  • Conservation of useful and endangered species of plants and animals should be done.

Reason for Conservation of Biodiversity

An area with higher abundant species has a more stable environment when compared to a lower species abundance area.  Humans directly depend on different species of plants for numerous needs. Similarly, people depend on various animals and microbes for different reasons.

Due to various reasons such as the loss of habitat, over-exploitation of resources, climatic changes, pollution, invasive exotic species, diseases, hunting, etc biodiversity is being lost. It is very important to conserve biodiversity as it provides various economic and ethical benefits and adds aesthetic value.

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FAQs on Conservation of Biodiversity

1. What is biodiversity?

The variability of life on Earth is called Biodiversity. It refers to the variation of the living organisms at species and genetic level. Biodiversity takes into account all the living organisms present on Earth.Healthy and good biodiversity indicate a healthy and good ecosystem.

2. What is the loss of biodiversity?

various human activities, interventions and natural factors lead to the depletion of the ecosystem. This is called loss of biodiversity. Loss of biodiversity has a poor impact on the directly impacts the food chain and ecosystem in it. It affects agriculture and weakens the resistance of natural disasters like flood, drought etc. 

3. What are the various measures to conserve biodiversity?

Various measures to conserve biodiversity may include - prevention of deforestation, prevention of species extinction by poaching and killing, efficient use of resources, no human interference on biologically affected land, etc.

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