Biodiversity refers to the variation of life on Earth. Today we recognize that the remarkable diversity of species and environments in our natural world is declining rapidly as the human population expands and landscapes are modified. This accelerating loss of biodiversity has been termed the “Biodiversity Crisis” and is one of the leading environmental and social issues of the 21st century, impacting every continent and ocean. Although natural biological diversity is fundamentally important to a healthy and sustainable planet, responses to the crisis have suffered from insufficient information and inadequate policies for sustainable use of natural resources.
Insufficient information and policies are in part due to the slow rate at which biodiversity data are gathered, and the difficulty in accessing the information once it is available. These problems create a situation in which much of the diversity of our planet is likely to disappear before it can be discovered and understood. Principal among its underlying causes is the inadequate infrastructure supporting biodiversity research. The Biodiversity Crisis creates both the necessity and the opportunity for a new type of response.
The University of Florida (UF) proposes to meet this challenge through the establishment of a Biodiversity Institute that will accelerate research on biological diversity and serve clients seeking analyzed and validated sources of information.