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What is Biodiversity?

Biological diversity - or biodiversity - refers to the richness of life and the diverse patterns it forms. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines biological diversity as "the variability among living organisms from all sources […] this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems" (Article 2, CBD).

Europe hosts a unique set of natural diversity. However, biodiversity loss has accelerated to an unprecedented level, both in Europe and worldwide. In Europe some 42% of European mammals are endangered, together with 15% of birds and 45% of butterflies and reptiles.

Globally, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment showed that 60% of all ecosystem services worldwide are in decline and species are becoming extinct at up to 1,000 times the normal rate. The loss of biodiversity, and the ecosystem services it supports, threatens our economic, social and cultural development. According to the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study (TEEB) 2008 report the annual welfare loss generated by loss of ecosystem services by 2050 will reach 6% of global GDP.

Continued biodiversity loss – whether from climate change, pollution or unsustainable use of natural resources – will irreversibly compromise the supply of water, food, air and other natural resources that societies and businesses depend upon but often taken for granted.

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