What is biodiversity Natural History Museum

Biodiversity. The name we give to the variety of all life on Earth. From bacteria to baboons, from plants to people, the range of life on our planet is incredible. All living things exist in their own communities, or ecosystems. These ecosystems can be oceans, forests, deserts, ice caps and even cities. All of that put together is biodiversity - the variety and amount of all organisms and their habitats. We are all intertwined in a massive system called Earth each element supports the others and enables them to thrive. For our planet to stay healthy our ecosystems need to be able to cope with change. This means we need a large variety of animals and plants. If we allow Earth to flourish, we benefit from what it can produce - including the food we eat, the water we drink and medicines we rely on. What does a healthy ecosystem looks like? Take the British coastline - all along the shores, the kelp and seaweed growing there support a huge range of life. Where kelp meets the seabed, all kinds of animals can use it for shelter. Worms, anemones, and crustaceans are protected there. Small fish feed on the seaweed fronds, which are eaten by bigger fish, which in turn feed us. The kelp forest is more than just a home for underwater animals. It also helps to protect our shores from erosion. And it captures carbon, which helps to slow climate change. If you take away one part of a system like this, the whole thing can collapse. Even small changes can have big consequences. We are harvesting our kelp forests for fertiliser, which removes a key part of our coastal ecosystem. This is just one of the threats biodiversity is facing, in the UK and all over the world. We are now in an era when we have the biggest impact on Earth's natural systems. The causes of biodiversity loss are complicated, but we know we are making the problems worse. On land, we are converting natural habitats into farms, factories, roads and cities. In the ocean, we are fishing, drilling and mining. We are all responsible for the planet's wellbeing. You can help protect our life support system with relatively small changes. Reduce waste, eat sustainably and protect green spaces near you. It's not too late if we all make positive changes. Visit nhm.ac.uk to find out more about what you can do.