What is Biodiversity?

In the words of the famous American ecologist, Thomas Eisner, biodiversity is “the greatest treasure we have – its diminishment is to be prevented at all costs”.

At its simplest biodiversity is all living things on the planet. It covers: all animal life from micro-organisms to mammals plant life from ferns to flowering plants habitats from back gardens to tropical rainforests genetic variations within species

For Northern Ireland, that includes some

  • 22 land mammals (of which over half have probably been introduced), 2 species of seal and up to 12 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) spotted around the coast
  • well over 200 bird species (not including sightings of rare and vagrant species)
  • 11 native species of freshwater fish (excluding introductions and hybrids), including the Pollan, not found anywhere else in Europe
  • our sole reptile (the common lizard) and 2 amphibians (common frog and smooth newt)
  • tens of thousands of marine and terrestrial invertebrates (including almost 500 species of butterflies and moths)
  • around 1100 species of wild plants and trees (not including introduced or garden species)
  • countless mosses, ferns, algae, fungi and micro-organisms, and
  • the places where each of these living things actually live, and which biologists refer to as habitats.
  • It also includes the 1,685, 000 or so people that live here.

Local Biodiversity

Many of our Local Councils employ Biodiversity Officers and have developed Local Biodiversity Action Plans to help protect and promote our local biodiversity. Other private and voluntary sector organisations have also developed Biodiversity Action Plans.

We can all do our bit to help local wildlife and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

Contact your local Biodiversity Officer for more information.