Information on the theme

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Planet Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides goods and services that sustain our lives.

In a world of increasing globalisation and environmental degradation, management of biological diversity is one of the most important and critical challenges facing humankind today.

Goods and Services provided by ecosystems include:

  • Purification of air and water

  • Provision of food, fuel and fibre

  • Provision of shelter and building materials

  • Detoxification and decomposition of wastes

  • Control of pests and diseases

  • Maintenance of genetic resources as key inputs to crop varieties and livestock breeds, medicines, and other products

  • Cultural and aesthetic benefits

  • Ability to adapt to change

  • Stabilisation and moderation of the Earth's climate

  • Moderation of floods, droughts, temperature extremes and the forces of wind

  • Generation and renewal of soil fertility, including nutrient cycling

  • Pollination of plants, including many crops

Species have been disappearing at 50-100 times the natural rate

  • Based on current trends, an estimated 34,000 plant and 5,200 animal species - including one in eight of the world's bird species - face extinction

  • About 45 per cent of the Earth's original forests are gone

  • The ocean is full of plastic that is killing hundreds of marine animals on a daily basis. Sooner or later, these millions of plastic pieces will end up in our stomachs

  • The UK has only half of its natural biodiversity left.
    UK State of Nature Report 2023

Saving biodiversity will mean:

  • Protecting habitats

  • Tackling pollution

  • Preventing species over-exploitation

  • Halting invasive species

  • Stopping militarism and conflict

Video from Irish Bishops on Season of Creation 2023

Arctic Terns migrate huge distances of more than 22,000 miles a year

International Action

Global Biodiversity Framework

Amy Echeverria and Wesley Cocozello at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Canada

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Canada during December 2022, following a four-year negotiation process. It was signed by 196 nations on 19 December 2022 to "take urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss" by 2030 and to protect 30 percent of land and sea area by 2030.

Columbans had a delegation of two people there – Amy Echeverria and Wesley Cocozello. Columbans at Geneva meeting in March 2022 and Columban podcasts 'Jubilee for the Earth'

Local Action

Dalgan's Commitment to Biodiversity

The Columbans working in Ireland embrace biodiversity as part our mission to care for the Earth. This is reflected in our pastoral ministry, the upkeep of the woodland in Dalgan Park and the preservation of natural habitats.

At the beginning of 2023, the Columbans living in Dalgan decided to take steps to protect the biodiversity on the grounds. It was decided that large sections of the front lawn leading into the property should be left go wild to protect their biodiversity.

Briars have been left grow and have produced an abundance of blackberries, elderflower and berries and a diversity of plants where the smallest of insects call their home. Our polytunnel and small vegetable garden are chemical-free with a plan for composting to enhance the nutrients in the soil.

Retired Columban co-worker Ger Clarke giving a workshop on biodiversity in Dalgan Park during Heritage Week 2023

Green Team members from Notre Dame High School

Saving trees, woodland and hedges

A Green Team at Notre Dame High School in Norwich has planted trees in the Norfolk Broads. In January 2022 it reported that, working with the Horstead Activity Centre, which is owned by the Anglican Diocese of Norwich, the students helped plant over 200 saplings. The school's Green Team meets weekly.

Increasing tree cover on parish and school land

In June 2023 students and staff from Holy Family Catholic Secondary School and Sixth Form in Brentwood Diocese achieved CAFOD'S LiveSimply Award after taking action to demonstrate they are living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the world's poorest communities. Bishop Alan Williams of Brentwood presented the award. Action included trees and bulbs being planted around the school. Sometimes trees can be planted for special sacramental occasions.

Education on Biodiversity

Mount Carmel Primary School in Ealing, West London, received CAFOD's Livesimply Award after around 30 staff and 470 pupils put into action a plan to move towards living simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor. Groups of children have regular trips around the school grounds, appreciating the natural world and discussing how to care for it. The pupils planted new bulbs in the Autumn, ready for a dramatic display of colour in the Spring.

Wall display on 'Endangered species'


"Destruction of biodiversity is not just about what is happening to other creatures, humanity relies on biodiversity for its health, food and well-being."
Columban Fr Sean McDonagh

"We must now move from a mindset of extraction to an understanding of our inextricable connection with nature and a deep sense of stewardship."
Christiana Figueres, International diplomat on global climate change