Biodiversity according to the English dictionary is the diversity (number and variety of species) of plant and animal life within a region. It is the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”. It is the foundation of life on Earth. This is because each specie has a specific niche, a specific role and function in an ecosystem.
These roles include capturing and storing energy, providing food, predation, decomposing organic matter, cycling water and nutrients, controlling erosion etc.
The more diverse an ecosystem is the more stable it is, the more productive it tends to be, and the better it is able to withstand environmental stress.
Conservation is the act of preserving, guarding or protecting. It is the discipline concerned with protection of biodiversity, the environment and natural resources.
It is also the gene and associated characteristics of biological organisms that are unchanged by evolution. For example similar or identical nucleic acid sequence or proteins in different species descended from a common ancestor. Its goals include conserve habitat, preventing deforestation, halting species extinction, reducing overfishing and mitigating climate change.
Conserving biodiversity means ensuring that natural landscapes, with their array of ecosystems are maintained and that species, population, genes and the complex interaction between them persist into the future.
National development is the process of developing, growing and bringing positive change to a nation or country.
In combination, biodiversity conservation and national development is the preserving, guarding or protecting of numbers and variety of species of plant and animal life and many other natural resources for the development and growth of a nation. By so doing, improving human wellbeing by reducing the total infectious disease burden, which might benefit humans by reducing zoonotic disease risk.
The principal value underlying many expressions of the conservation ethic is that the natural world has intrinsic and intangible worth along with utilitarian value- a view carried forward by parts of the scientific conservation movement and some of the older romantic schools of ecology movement.
Philosophers have attached intrinsic value to different aspects of nature, whether this is individual organisms (biocentrism) or ecological wholes such as species or ecosystem.
More utilitarian schools of conservation have an anthropocentric outlook and seek a proper valuation of local and global impacts on human activity upon nature in their effect upon human wellbeing, now and to posterity. How such values are assessed and exchanged among people determines the social, political, and personal restraints and imperatives by which conservation is practiced.
Nigeria occupies a unique geographic position in Africa and the variability in climate and geographic features endow her with one of the biodiversity in the continent. Its diversity of natural ecosystem ranges from semi-arid savanna to mountain forests, vast fresh water swamp, rich seasonal flood, plain environment, rain forest and diverse costal vegetation.
The Niger Delta region of the country contains the largest tracts of mangrove in Africa. The country is also known as a global hotspot for primate species. Some of the endemic species include three monkey; the white-throated monkey (cercopithecus enythrogaster), scalater’s guenom (cercopithecus sclateri) and the Niger Delta red colobus (procolobus pennantii epireni ).
There are also four bird species, the Anambra waxbill(estrilda poliopareia), the Ibadan malimbe(malimbus ibadanensis), the jos plateau idigo bird(vidilamaryea) and the rock fire-finch(lagonostica sang vinodorsalir). The most endangered gorilla subspecies on earth, the Cross River gorilla (gorilla gorilla diehli) is found only in a couple of protected areas in Cross Rivers state, south eastern Nigeria.
As avenue of protecting its unique diversity, Nigeria has recognized protected areas such as National parks, forest reserve, game reserve, game reserve, biosphere reserves.
The potentials of conserving biodiversity include: biodiversity is essential for the sustainable functioning of the agricultural, forest and national ecosystems on which humans depend, it helps in generating income, some authors estimate that in the united states, biodiversity provides a total of $319 billion dollars in annual benefit and $2,928 billion in annual benefits worldwide (1997 calculation), approximately 751 (by weight)of the 100,000 chemicals released into the environment can be degraded by biological organisms and are potential targets of both bioremediation and bio treatment.
The savings gained by using bioremediation instead of the other available techniques; physical, chemical and thermal; to remediate chemical pollution worldwide give an annual benefits of $135 billion (1997 calculation) maintaining biodiversity in soils and water is imperative to the continued and improved effectiveness of bioremediation and bio treatment.
The ways to protect and conserve this biodiversity include: government legislation, nature preserves, reducing invasive species, habitat restoration, capture, breeding and seed bank, research, reduce climate change, purchase sustainable products.
Despite these potentials, the country is still faced with various challenges with respect to biodiversity conservation. National and man-made threats ,socio-cultural problems as well as direct and indirect consequences of socio economic development has contributed to the erosion of the biodiversity with increasing population and pressure on available natural resources. The county has lost a significant percentage of its biodiversity.
To worsen the matter there has been a general institutional weakness and lack of technical capacity to effectively tackle the nation’s environmental issues, including a threat to biodiversity. These threats include; a loss of biodiversity leads to an increase in the spread of disease researchers speculate this is because some species are better at buffering (solution for stabilizing) disease transmission. An example of this is that species that have low rate of production or invest heavily in immunity tend to be more strongly impacted by losses of biodiversity than those with high reproduction rate or those that invest less immunity (and would consequently be more likely disease host), the study examines 12 lyma disease.
In eastern North America, the white-footed mouse is simultaneously the most abundant host species, the most competent host for the lyma bacterium and the highest quality host for immature tick vectors.
Virginia opossums are poor host for the pathogen and kill vast majority of ticks that attempts to feed on them. This species are however absent from many low diversity forest fragments and degraded forests, places where mice are abundant. Along with loss of biodiversity comes a loss of the species with the strongest disease buttering effects.
Biodiversity is under serious threat as a result of human activities. The main dangers worldwide are population, climate change and global warming, habitat conversion and urbanization, massive alien species over exploitation of natural resources and environmental degradation.
Although the study of does not discuss costs associated with an increased rate of disease transmission, it could be re inferred that a decrease of biodiversity that leads to increased medical costs, increasing the urgency of the need of local, regional and global efforts to preserve natural ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain.
The primary solution to biodiversity loss are, the reduction of land and soil degradation especially related to agriculture and the integration of biodiversity, strategies with other major environmental concerns such as climate change and also with human development concern such as poverty reduction.