CSS Solved Environmental Science Past Paper 2023 | What are main causes of biodiversity loss? How can we protect and preserve biodiversity?
Aqsa Tanveer, the highest scorer in the CSS Environmental Science paper, attempts the following question. The answer is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
In this question, the examiner enquires about biodiversity loss and ways to protect it. First and foremost are principal causes of biodiversity loss. An inclusive and appropriate outline is mandatory to interpret the question better. You have to begin with an introduction and a glance at the significance of biodiversity. Principal causes of biodiversity loss should be given along with their impacts to address the first part of the question. Then, it would be best if you illustrated the most effective strategies to protect and preserve biodiversity. As a way forward, you have to present the role of science and technology in preserving biodiversity. For value addition, diagrams and flow charts can play an influential role. A satisfactory conclusion must be given at the end to summarize the whole question.
2– A Glance at the significance of biodiversity
3- Principle causes for loss of biodiversity
- ✓Pollution (Air, Water, Soil)
- ✓Habitat loss
- ✓Habitat fragmentation
- ✓Overexploitation of specific species
- ✓Climate change
- ✓Invasive/ exotic Species
- ✓Natural Disasters
- ✓Alteration in Ecosystem composition
4- Ways to protect and preserve biodiversity
- ✓Government legislation
- ✓Nature preserves (In-situ Conservation)
- ✓ Captive breeding and seed banks(Ex-situ Conservation)
- ✓ Reducing invasive species
- ✓Habitat restoration
- ✓Reduce climate change
- ✓Purchase sustainable products
- ✓Sustainable living
- ✓Public Education
5- The role of science and technology in preserving biodiversity
Answer to the Question
In simple terms, biodiversity means the diversity of life. According to Convention on Biological Diversity, biodiversity can be defined as diversity or genetic variation within species and between species of the ecosystem and the variability among living organisms from all sources, such as terrestrial, marine and aquatic ecosystems. Biodiversity is a remarkable attribute and trait of the planet earth. As per 2020 statistics from daily science, about 15 million varieties of species are present on this planet. But it is alarming that biodiversity is diminishing at a rapid pace. In the past few years, it has been evident that biodiversity loss is one of the tremendous problems. The variety of life on the planet is nature’s ability to provide essential resources for human wellbeing. Therefore, human sustenance depends on Biodiversity. The number of biodiversity resources like uncontaminated water, air, food and medicines. If left neglected, biodiversity loss is an environmental problem but a developmental challenge. Humans are changing ecosystems faster than in any comparable period to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. Hereafter, an irreversible loss occurs in the diversity of life on planet Earth. The consequences of biodiversity loss pave the way for less nutrition, decreased medicines, less aquatic food and a flawed agriculture system. It is our responsibility to protect biodiversity as effectively as possible. Biodiversity is vital for improving our lives and creating a healthy planet.
‘‘Biodiversity conservation refers to the protection and management of biodiversity in order to derive sustainable benefits for present and future generations.”
A Glance at the significance of biodiversity
On the edifice of biodiversity, ecosystems function, and humans flourish. Various plants and animals in an ecosystem work together to maintain balance. The damage and disruption of biodiversity lead to crop reduction and animal extinction in developing countries. The ecosystem can lose its balance after the removal of species. Biodiversity maintains the balance of an ecosystem by keeping them functioning and self-regulating. The ecosystem services of biodiversity are provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. Provisioning services include producing renewable resources such as energy production and farming. Regulating services plays a vital role in the reduction of environmental problems. Maintaining tree species’ biodiversity is significant for absorbing carbon dioxide to avert climate change. we can get value and enjoyment from cultural services, such as outdoor recreation. Therefore, the importance of biodiversity can be summarized as:
Principal causes for the loss of a variety of life on earth
It is the need of the hour to put sincere efforts into understanding the principal causes of biodiversity loss on planet Earth. There are the following major causes responsible for the loss of biodiversity:
- ✓ Pollution
A- Air pollution
Air pollution has a negative impact on the respiratory system of living organisms resulting in behavioral alterations. The massive emission of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane are changing the Earth’s climate. Consequently, acid rain causes fish suffocation, disrupts the food chain and diminished microbial activity in the soil.
B- Water pollution
Water pollution has a detrimental effect on biodiversity. Nitrogenous fertilizers from the soil enter water bodies. The presence of these nutrients in the water bodies leads to massive plant growth and, ultimately, eutrophication. Eutrophication causes the depletion of the oxygen level, which is lethal for biodiversity, such as aquatic animals. Pesticides and fertilizers accumulate in water bodies such as lakes and ponds. Therefore, marine animals face difficulty in reproduction. With rapid industrialization, various anthropogenic activities lead to heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury being introduced into the water bodies. Consequently, the survival rates of aquatic animals undergo disruption. Furthermore, anthropogenic activities such as oil spills negatively impact marine wildlife.
C- Soil pollution
Soil pollution is also affecting biodiversity badly. Microorganisms essential for maintaining living organisms’ lives also get impacted by soil contamination. Plants absorb the excess heavy metals in the soil because these are not broken down quickly. Unsustainable agriculture practices such as fertilizers and pesticide overuse pave the way for the destruction of biodiversity. Nitrogen from fertilizers changes the pH level of the soil.
- ✓ Habitat loss
The substantial threat to biodiversity and the rapid extinction of species is habitat loss. Habitat and wildlife are interrelated. Nature is essential for the active working of the ecosystem. Any destruction and degradation of habitat can cause habitat loss. Habitat destruction is destroying the specie’s natural habitat incapable of upholding the native ecosystems. This results in species extinction, such as biodiversity loss. Glaring manifestation of habitat degradation of species is as follows:
- ✓ fragmentation
Due to rapid urbanization and developmental activities this issue has arisen. This rapid development of human societies at the cost of species extinction converts large wild areas into smaller fragments of land. These split-up regions break down the habitats of the animal and plant species.
- ✓ Hunting
Hunting is the primary cause of the extinction of various species resulting in food web disruption. Therefore, many species face food scarcity. It can place a massive burden on wildlife resulting in ecosystem imbalance.
- ✓ Overexploitation of preferred species
Collection of species from their natural habitat at a rapid rate than the replenishment by the local community. Due to larger-scale fishing and hunting one third of vertebrates are under threat of overexploitation. For academic training and laboratory experiments, many pitcher plants are overexploited.
- ✓ Climate change
Climate change has a strong negative impact on biodiversity. With the advent of rapid industrialization and environmental problems, species’ capability to acclimate is under threat, resulting in the loss of biodiversity. Therefore, it jeopardized human interests in clean water, air, medicines and other natural resources. Henceforth, climate change, human well-being and biodiversity are interlinked as follows:
- ✓ Invasive species
The introduction of invasive species is an evident cause of biodiversity loss. The species not native to the ecosystem can be introduced by humans in respective ecosystems and start pollination. Such species have a disproportionate effect on the ecosystem. Therefore, these invasive species modify the habitat and decline genetic diversity by hybridizing with natives and competing with native species for resources.
- ✓ Natural disasters
Natural disasters such as volcanos, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, droughts, epidemics and tsunamis can cause a loss of biodiversity on a massive scale. Due to floods, colossal nutrients from the soil get washed away. Drought also led to dry soil and decline in the level of water table. In this situation, both flora and fauna suffer. Similarly, wildfires destroy wooded forests.
Ways to protect and preserve biodiversity:
There are following ways to protect and preserve biodiversity at wider scale:
- ✓ Government legislation
Governments are empowered to control the habitats within their territory. The effective formulation and implementation of Legislation can protect natural habitats. By emphasizing preservation of natural resources, or limiting overexploitation of natural biodiversity. In addition, implementation of laws to protect endangered Species. Protecting habitats before they have been altered is the best form on biodiversity conservation and is most successfully implemented by government regulations.
- ✓ Nature preserves (IN-SITU conservation)
Governments are empowered to control the habitats within their territory. The practical formulation and implementation of Legislation can protect natural habitats. By emphasizing the preservation of natural resources or limiting the overexploitation of natural biodiversity. In addition, implementation of laws to protect endangered Species. Protecting habitats before they have been altered is the best form of biodiversity conservation and is most successfully implemented by government regulations.
- ✓ Nature preserves (IN-SITU conservation)
National Parks are nature preserves, a form of government regulation. Organisms are protected in a region that lives there for development, and people are provided access to the respective area. Therefore, this form of preservation protects the natural habitat. The main objective is that this helps people have more respect for nature. This area is reserved for the betterment of wild life. Boundaries are well marked in an area of 100sq km to 500sq km. Major national parks of Pakistan are Hingol, Chitral and Marglla. Wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves are also protected areas for wildlife.
- ✓ Captive breeding and seed banks (EX-SITU)
This method involves the capture, maintenance and breeding of endangered species. It provides the opportunity to increase the population of these species. Seed banks are cold storage areas where various plant seeds are stored under a specific temperature. The plant can be grown from saved seed and reintroduced back into its habitat. There are the following widely used methods of in-situ and ex-situ conservation:
- ✓ Reducing the number of invasive species
Invasive species are sometimes introduced in a region by accident or by purpose. To limit the number of invasive species moved by accident, planes, ships, and cargo must thoroughly check before it is offloaded in a new place. In Addition, people should not bring new species of animals or plants to an area without consulting ecologists of the respective region.
- ✓ Habitat restoration
Human impacts deteriorate an area; we strive to restore it to its original state. Therefore, this means bringing back the plants and animals that are naturally present there. It is an acceptable way of returning biodiversity to the respective region. Governments and NGOs must undertake these restoration projects.
- ✓ Research
It is critical to understand how species interact within their environment. As humans understand species interaction, more direct ways to help protect organisms and maintain biodiversity are discovered. By research many different species have been found to increase their population.
- ✓ Reduce climate change
Climate change has disastrous consequences for all living organisms on earth. Rapid industrialization considerably increased fossil fuel use, which directly cause climate change. Therefore, fossil fuels should be replaced with towards alternative energy sources and naturally sustainable products. Henceforth, reducing the effects of climate change requires a worldwide effort.
- ✓ Purchase sustainable products
Using eco-friendly products can save biodiversity because consuming natural resources is one of the main reasons for biodiversity loss. In addition, consuming these goods increases demand for environmentally conscious products, pushing more producers to make it more.
- ✓ Sustainable living
Sustainable living is something that everyone can choose to do regularly. Whether taking shorter showers, riding a bike to work or buying eco-friendly products helps to reduce the amount of resources we use. Lifestyle change is the essential way of protecting biodiversity.
- ✓ Education
Educating people about the sustainable environment and biodiversity conservation increases public awareness about the severity of the issue. Therefore, people become more involved, and the implementation of Government legislation becomes effective.
The role of science and technology in conserving biodiversity
Ecological science is used to understand the web of interactions in biomes. Through these interactions, scientists pinpoint the key ecosystem species for conservation efforts. It is also used to understand pollution and its effects within an ecosystem. Sustainable technologies, like renewable energies, biodegradable packaging, and recycling, help reduce our impact on the environment. In addition, technologies like cloning make scientists capable of bringing back endangered species.
The primary cause for biodiversity loss is anthropogenic activity on the world’s natural system. The people have significantly modified the environment. Several factors were discussed, such as pollution, hunting, invasive species, habitat loss and degradation and exploitation of natural resources, which are conducive to biodiversity loss. It is a dire need of the hour to save our planet and take measures to preserve biodiversity. Effective formulation and implementation of legislation can play a vital role in in-situ and ex-situ conservation. Furthermore, public awareness and usage of sustainable products can avert this massive loss.
‘‘We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity.’’
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