Marine Biodiversity: What is it…and why it is so important?

Biodiversity can be defined in several ways, but it generally refers to the number of species types in a particular ecosystem. Marine biodiversity therefore refers to the species richness and abundance in the world's oceans and seas. And since the world is covered with approximately 70% water, the amount of life in the oceans is enormous.

Marine biodiversity is important to protect because today, just as always, humans are dependent on the Earth's resources for their livelihood, health and well being In Belize, efforts have been made to conserve the incredible biodiversity that exists in the country. In addition to seasonal closures and catch limits on some fishery products, many national parks and marine reserves have been established in an effort to protect these natural areas. Having diverse ecosystems makes organisms and systems more resilient to changes. Ecosystems that are more resistant are able to then continue to provide the following benefits:

  • Protection of water resources (e.g. Mangrove forests trap silt)
  • Nutrient Storage and Cycling
  • Pollution Breakdown and Absorption
  • Contributes to Climactic Stability
  • Recovery from unpredictable events (e.g. hurricanes)
  • Food
  • Medicinal Resources
  • Recreation

Reef Brief is a weekly column published in the San Pedro Sun
Most San Pedranos are very familiar with the large number of species of plants and animals that are found in the waters surrounding Ambergris Caye. However, it may be easy to take this unique resource for granted. It's important to remember that our actions on land can affect the coral reef and the animals that inhabit this area. Watch for conservation tips in following Reef Briefs for things that residents and visitors of San Pedro can do to protect this beautiful island and reef.

This week's Conservation Tip: Try to buy items that are less toxic to the environment when produced. For example, use vinegar and water as a replacement to glass cleaner.

If you have a topic you would like featured in Reef Brief, or would just like to help us, please call 2833, or E-mail: - greenreef@btl.net.

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