Reversing biodiversity loss

The Royal Society has worked with leading experts in the field to answer key questions about biodiversity, along with a video from Sir David Attenborough to explain the importance of it. Watch Sir David Attenborough on why we need nature.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity matters. At its simplest, biodiversity is about living nature or life on Earth - different genes, species and ecologies and, as a consequence, the varying landscapes, regions and habitats in which they exist. 

Biodiversity provides food, water and shelter; influences climate; controls disease; and regulates nutrient and water cycles. Biodiversity is integral to spiritual, cultural, psychological and artistic well-being. Biodiversity also has its own intrinsic worth distinct from human life. Humans are embedded in the natural world, and so are a part of biodiversity.

Acting against biodiversity loss

Today, however, the Earth is losing biodiversity at rates not seen in the modern era. Human responses to stop biodiversity decline have been woefully inadequate – with targets missed at both the international and national levels. 

The Royal Society has produced a range of resources to help stimulate debate among policy makers and the public:

  • Our short film, Why do we need nature? is voiced by Sir David Attenborough and explores some of the key themes on biodiversity loss
  • Our Primer on Why nature matters provides a short overview of the state of nature in the UK and what we can do to protect, restore, manage and create spaces for nature to flourish in
  • Our Q&A looks at some of the most commonly asked questions about biodiversity and draws on the expertise of our Fellows to answer them as accurately and dispassionately as possible
  • To strengthen the scientific evidence base on biodiversity and make this available to policymakers, the Royal Society has commissioned a series of essays from global experts in fields as diverse as conservation, ecology, environmental change, economics and population. 

Find answers to 16 key questions about biodiversity

Further reading

Scientific essays about biodiversity 

  • The economics of biodiversity: The Dasgupta review
    By Partha Dasgupta
    Read the essay
  • Plural valuation of nature matters for environmental sustainability and justice
    By Berta Martín-López
    Read the essay
  • Why efforts to address climate change through nature-based solutions must support both biodiversity and people
    By Nathalie Seddon
    Read the essay
  • Past and future decline and extinction of species
    By Christopher N. Johnson
    Read the essay
  • Amazonia’s future: Eden or degraded landscapes?
    By Thomas E Lovejoy
    Read the essay
  • Behaviours for conserving biodiversity
    By R M Cowling
    Read the essay
  • Consumption patterns and biodiversity
    By Jianguo Liu
    Read the essay
  • Demographic trends and policy options
    By John Bongaarts
    Read the essay
  • Emergent and vanishing biodiversity, and evolutionary suicide
    By Simon A Levin
    Read the essay
  • Preserving global biodiversity requires rapid agricultural improvements
    By David Tilman and David R. Williams
    Read the essay