Life comes in an almost unending variety of shapes and sizes, and we all depend on this biodiversity for our food, health and security. We share the planet with as many as 13 million different living species, many of which are as yet undiscovered. Even for those we are aware of, we often don’t understand their full potential or the complex systems they support.
This incredible natural wealth is a priceless resource. Loss of just one species could have untold effects on the world as we know it. So, in an uncertain future, the importance of safeguarding biodiversity for future generations is paramount.
Despite our increasing knowledge of the world around us, this rich diversity is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate. Due to human activities, many plants, animals and fungi are less able to resist or react to growing threats posed by climate change, chemical applications and other invasive species taking over their habitats.
The decade 2011 to 2020 has been designated the United Nations International Decade of Biodiversity. It’s an opportunity for organizations across the world to come together and promote the importance of conserving the biodiversity on our planet.
CABI’s bibliographic databases provide a global bank of knowledge of the state of research in this area, whilst our work on managing invasive alien species is vital to conserving natural biodiversity. Our experts have carried out significant research into the effects and potential biological control of invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed and invasive species such as the harlequin ladybird. When non-native species arrive, survive and thrive they often threaten the existence of other plants, insects, animals or microorganisms. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, since the 17th century, invasive alien species have contributed to nearly 40% of animal extinctions.
CABI holds and manages a collection of over 28,000 fungal cultures, many of which are unique. Collected from around the world, this valuable resource is preserved and currently being screened for potential new drugs. We also help countries to develop and manage their own collections and operate in the spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The practices of farmers can have a major impact on biodiversity – pesticides and herbicides can harm beneficial insects and plants, and intensive farming can degrade soil. As part of our project work, CABI helps farmers improve their crops by introducing natural or ‘bio’ pesticides and sustainable techniques such as integrated pest management. We also advise on trade and quarantine issues.