Sustainable Solutions: Loss of Biodiversity (RV-10489)

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Biodiversity refers to the richness and distribution of species living in a given area. This course will deal with strategies to effectively mitigate negative impacts to habitat and to restore damaged or degraded natural systems on-site.

People generally buy the idea that biodiversity is something to be saved and restored. The modern environmental movement has gotten this far. Unfortunately, the full meaning of biodiversity isn’t always understood. We, the general public, think biodiversity happens in forests—especially rainforests. We think of fragile, imperiled, misty rainforests in foreign lands full of unseen, howling, wild things. We are told that fires and bulldozers and logging companies are bad and that they are killing biodiversity. And this is bad.

While the association between biodiversity and rainforests is appropriate (rainforests are, in fact, some of the most diverse natural systems on the planet), it is also overly simplistic, as is the idea that all fires and bulldozers and logging companies are bad. Biodiversity, in and of itself, is actually a fairly mundane concept, but the causes of its loss are highly complex and nuanced. Biodiversity is a characteristic of communities—even of the biological communities in and around our cities and towns. The biodiversity just outside our back doors provides the same benefits, to varying degrees, as that of the Amazonian jungle.

Biodiversity is defined as the number and evenness of species occupying a specific location. Highly diverse communities tend to contain a large number of species, many of which are common or occur frequently, whereas less diverse communities may have fewer species and/or may be dominated by just a few. Imagine a college campus with a diverse student body. It might be composed of students from twenty different ethnic backgrounds. Furthermore, none of these groups dominates campus culture, yet none is so uncommon that its influence is not felt. Now imagine a campus whose student body is less diverse. It might be composed of students from only five or six ethnic groups, or it might contain students belonging to the same twenty ethnic groups, as in our high-diversity campus, but one or two dominate the campus culture, so that the influence from the other eighteen or nineteen is scarcely felt.

The same notions of diversity hold true for biological systems. So when we talk about the loss of biodiversity, we’re not just talking about extirpation or extinction as a result of human activity; we’re also talking about the increasing dominance of a few generalist species as uncommon species become even more rare.
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Sustainable Development & Design
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
At the conclusion of this course, you will be able to:
• Identify the drivers of biodiversity loss
• Recognize how the loss of biodiversity affects the lives of humans
• Discuss the importance of site selection and habitat conservation in promoting healthy environments
• Describe how reduction of habitat fragmentation and ecosystem restoration contribute to appealing residential and commercial development
• List the benefits of holistic resource management in meeting the needs of safe, healthy construction for future generations
• Explain habitat mitigation to produce commercial and residential construction that the public can utilize safely, responsibly, and with pride.
Matt McCaw
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