The European Commission have released a paper synthesising 192 studies to provide a quantitative estimate of the impact of the loss of plant biodiversity on ecosystem primary production, showing that this impact could be as great as that of other major environmental changes, such as climate warming, rising ozone levels and ocean acidification. They examined the effects of biodiversity loss on primary plant production of biomass and decomposition of plant litter, both of which underpin the carbon cycle and provision of key ecosystem services.

Previous studies have shown that loss of plant biodiversity will lead to falling plant productivity. However, the results of this latest study suggest that policymakers and land managers need to consider the threat of biodiversity loss on ecosystem health alongside other high profile environmental changes, such as higher ozone and UV, nutrient pollution or drought. The research provides a quantitative base which will allow policy-makers to incorporate species loss relevant for primary production and decomposition into ecosystem assessments, such as that planned by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

To read the European Commission Science for Environmental Policy Brief click here.

To read the full paper click here.