Anna Neena George
Biological diversity deals with the degree of nature’s variety in the biosphere. This variety can be observed at three levels – genetic diversity – the genetic variability within a species; the variety of species within a community, and the organization of species in an area into distinctive plant and animal communities.
In most science textbooks, a lesson on biodiversity more often than not begins with definitions and teachers too religiously follow this method of teaching. The textbook also deals with the number of species and goes on to talk about species that are rare, extinct, endemic, endangered, threatened, ex-situ or in-situ conservation, and hotspots of biodiversity. All these are new and high sounding terms. Students probably think, ‘Why do we have to learn about so many plants and animals?’, ‘Why learn so many new terms?’, ‘Are these important for exams’? This approach to teaching biodiversity gives a totally theoretical idea about this very important field, turning it into something that is devoid of any relationship to real life. The students may certainly memorize all these facts and still remain ignorant about the biodiversity existing around them. The fact that we owe the variety of food that we eat to biodiversity is never touched upon in a way that would impact the students.
The two main ideas to be presented are: biodiversity is found everywhere and biodiversity makes life on earth possible. The objective is to create awareness about the bounty of biodiversity on earth which students are not conscious of and to impress upon them the responsibility to use it judiciously, conserve it for future generations to ensure life on earth.
Nature has the innate ability to rejuvenate and sustain life on earth and biodiversity is the key element which aids nature to do it. The study of biodiversity reveals these secrets of nature to the students rather than a few definitions.
The author is Associate Professor at GVM’s Dr. Dada Vaidya College of Education, Ponda, Goa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.