Loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystems not only undermine health, livelihoods, food production, and the availability of clean water, but also increase the vulnerability of populations to natural disasters and climate change. With roughly 10 million people dying from hunger each year, the linkages between biodiversity and food security are important to recognize. Seventy percent of the estimated 1.1 billion people in poverty around the world live in rural areas and depend on the productivity of ecosystems for their livelihoods. Within these ecosystems, biodiversity not only provides the components of food, but also supports agricultural production and sustainability. By promoting ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling, pest control, and pollination, biodiversity assists in creating the conditions needed for food security.

In addition, biodiversity provides communities with a diverse range of edible plant and animal species as food sources, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, algae, fungi, bushmeat, insects, birds, and fisheries products. In total, about 7,000 species of plants and several thousand species of animals have been used for human food at one time or another. These wild species which are nutritionally significant often complement cultivated species. Wild sources of food are especially important during times of famine, insecurity, or conflict when regular food supply mechanisms are disrupted and access to other forms of food is limited. They also complement staple foods to provide a balanced and varied diet, contributing to improved human health.

For more information, visit our site on managing ecosystems for human well-being