Why It Matters

Biodiversity & Ecosystems

What do Asian rainforests and African wildlife corridors have in common? They’re incredibly rich in biodiversity.

When you support Stand For Trees, you are helping to protect some of the world’s richest ecosystems.

Keeping ecosystems healthy

Tropical forests are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth. They are home to millions of well-known species, and millions more that are still undiscovered. There are flowers, plants, grasses, birds, insects, and fish. There are even soil microbes! And of course, there are also endangered species and iconic wildlife.

We love our orangutans, lions, and jaguars, and they make the most spectacular photos. But they also depend on everything else, from worms and insects that make the soil richer, to trees that provide shade, food, and territory.

That’s biodiversity. And it’s the foundation of every ecosystem.

Why is biodiversity so important?

Ecosystems are amazingly complex. Soils, plants, and trees create habitat and food for birds and animals. Birds and animals pay it back by supporting the trees, plants, and soils.

How does this work? Just a few examples: soil microbes improve conditions for plant growth. Animals eat plants and birds. Birds eat small animals, use trees for shelter, and spread trees’ seeds. And so on. The important thing is that each species has a role to play in keeping the system rolling.

Failsafes are a second level of biodiversity. What are these? Basically, if something goes wrong with one member of the team, other members can pick up the slack. It’s the same reason business diversify into many different markets and products. For an ecosystem, it means having multiple species that take on similar jobs. Or, as they say, it’s wise not to put all your eggs in one basket.

There’s also a third level: genetic diversity, which comes from having a large population. A species can better adapt to changing conditions when it has enough variation in the gene pool.

Recap: What ecosystems need

Species

Many different types of species, each of which do something different, to make sure the ecosystem has everything it needs to keep functioning

Variety

Multiple species that do similar things, just in case something happens to one of them

Numbers

Large populations of each species, to make sure the species themselves remain viable

What biodiversity really is

The more biodiversity, the more resilience. That means the ecosystem is stronger, functions better, and adapts better to changes, even if they’re unexpected or dramatic.

That’s why an ecosystem that’s losing biodiversity only declines slowly at first. But when it loses too much, it hits a tipping point and falls off a cliff.

The more biodiversity, the stronger the ecosystem, the better it functions, and the better it can adapt to changes.

Why does this matter? Well, for one, the endangered species that we love so much are often at the top of the food chain. That means they depend on everything beneath them.

For another, all those other species – large and small – help to keep forests stable. Healthy forests store carbon, host animals, and support communities.

And last but not least, diverse forests do everything better. More biodiversity improves soil carbon storage. And rich forests store twice as much carbon as plantations with only one species.

So we have to keep our tropical forests, their priceless ecosystems, and their incredible biodiversity intact. And that’s what Stand For Trees projects do.