The biodiversity of forests

Biodiversity is the name given to the range or number of species or subspecies found in a particular area.

Why is biodiversity so important?
Because when a habitat’s biodiversity is disturbed it undermines the ecosystem. Biodiversity provides species for food, fuel, fibers and medicinal properties. The removal of one or two species from a food chain could cause an ecological disaster.

Due to Hungary’s forests being in the middle of different tundra there are many species of flora and fauna in the country.

There have been many maninduced problems for biodiversity. The hunting of large carnivorous animals such as bears, lynx and buffalo are such examples where a primary consumer was taken out of the food chain. But things are getting better with large animals like the lynx returning from Slovakia. Also during the communist era some tree species were planted which were not native.

25 percent of Hungary’s forests are covered by the Accacia tree. This tree is not native and it has become highly invasive, taking minerals, nutrients and space from native plant and tree species. The reason for planting this type of tree is due to its ability to spread quickly and its high quality timber.

Ireland is rich in biodiversity. There are many large animal such as deer, badgers, rabbits and foxes. It is also rich for it’s floral species such as spruce, birch, beech, fir, ash and sychamore. In Ireland, the forest covers about 8 percent. Hunting is very popular, especially of fox, rabbit and deer. Forest clearance for construction and pathways has led to the reduction of Ireland’s biodiversity. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive shrub which was introduced to Ireland in 1890. This shrub grows to 2 m and shadows all vegetation under its branches, leading to decrease in the biodiversity.

To try to increase the biodiversity, work will have to be done to clear this invasive species. Also the enforcement of anti-hunting laws and better preservation laws will help to replenish the biodiversity.

At the moment 80 percent of Belgium’s wood is in Wallonia and there is currently a healthy stock. It is necessary to build recreation areas in Belgium’s forests so that people can see for themselves how important biodiversity is.

The problem is that because of Belgium’s forest cover being so small there is little space for such learning facilities. Also a large problem in Belgium is the fragmentation of the forest. This separates important ecosystems and doesn’t give biodiversity a chance to increase and expand genetically.

The government was (while the greens were still in) trying to join these fragmented forests and also create green areas along side big cities so people can appreciate the importance of nature and of biodiversity. The government is also trying to buy the land of the private forest owners, who exploit the forest for commercial purposes.

Bulgaria proudly ranks fifth in Europe for biodiversity. Bulgaria’s forests are rich in faunal and floral species and there are laws in place to maintain the biodiversity. It also has more animal species in it’s territory than any other European country. The number of invertebrate species stands currently at over 4000. A quarter of these are currently preserved by law.

There are two main problems for biodiversity in Bulgaria. The first is the threat of forest fires which cause great destruction to many species of plants, animals and habitats every year. Also illegal woodcutting is threatening the biodiversity. Other problems include illegal building and hunting.

Many policies are in place to maintain the biodiversity of forests. More work must be done to protect species, especially those who are endangered such as the brown bear. These policies have to be reinforced rigorously for them to be effective. More money is also needed to implement and oversee new regulations being implemented and it is only then that things will have a chance of improving.

Findings and conclusions
Our reason for choosing four countries as case studies was to obtain a wider picture of Europe’s biodiversity and the problems associated with it.

Biodiversity of the world’s forests is currently threatened by many problems. Some of these include hunting, destruction through fires, invasive species, construction, fragmentation and mainly a lack of understanding.

From the group’s work we have concluded that while paper policies and regulations may be in place that the maintaining of biodiversity can only be achieved by proper enforcement of these regulations and heavy penalties for those who choose to ignore them.

More public awareness is the key to insure that people know the true importance attached to biodiversity of forests. In conclusion biodiversity is life and should be protected at all costs.

Statement of recommendations to European governments
We wish to make it quite clear that there is not enough work being done to conserve European forest’s biodiversity. With only 6.3% of forest dedicated to biodiversity it is easy to see that most governments are not facing up to the seriousness of the problem.

Regulations and policies are great in theory but without proper implementation and the support and proper awareness of the public, biodiversity of Europe’s forests is facing a challenging time.

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