16. A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life

16. A Rich Diversity of Plant and Animal Life. Photo: Kenneth Bengtsson/Johnér Bildbyrå."Biological diversity must be preserved and used sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations. Species habitats and ecosystems and their functions and processes must be safeguarded.  
 Species must be able to survive in long-term viable populations with sufficient genetic variation. Finally, people must have access to a good natural and cultural environment rich in biological diversity, as a basis for health, quality of life and well-being."

Sweden has a great diversity of plants and animals, inhabiting a mosaic of different environments, from arable land, forests and mountains to wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes and seas. Many species and habitats show negative trends and are in danger of disappearing in the long term. One reason is that traditional methods of farming and forestry, which once benefited many species, are now rarely used. Heavy nutrient loads and commercial fisheries are adversely affecting several marine environments.

Preserving biodiversity is crucial if ecosystems are to function and provide benefits such as purifying water and air, storing carbon and pollinating our crops. Without a diversity of species with different functions, there is a considerable risk that use of natural resources, climate change and other pressures could damage the capacity of ecosystems to deliver these services. Biodiversity also promotes public health, as many natural and cultural environments are important sites for outdoor recreation.

What are the challenges?

We already make intensive use of land and water, and the demand for resources such as food, raw materials, energy and water is growing. Meeting these needs without overexploiting ecosystems and increasing pressure on species is a major challenge. Ever greater fragmentation of the landscape by roads and buildings is also making it harder for animals and plants to spread and undermining conditions for them.

Under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Sweden is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Valuable natural areas are being protected and action plans are being drawn up to preserve our most threatened species. If such efforts are to succeed, there also needs to be greater consideration for the environment and better planning in the use of natural resources, with a view to promoting a green infrastructure. In addition, agriculture and forestry need to be based on methods that contribute to a rich biodiversity. Monitoring and control of non-native species and conservation of genetic variation in plants and animals are also very important.

Authority responsible for objective

 
Naturvårdsverket (Swedish Environment Protection Agency)