IATE Term of the Week: Biodiversity


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The Amazon rainforest is burning. In mid-August the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) observed that the forest fires in the Amazon rainforest were particularly intense. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research counted 72,843 fires in Brazil this year. For the Amazon rainforest, this means that every minute of every day an area the size of one-and-a-half soccer fields are being destroyed by fire. That does not only affect Brazil and the surrounding countries but the whole world. The Amazon rainforest is called the “lungs of the planet.” It produces 20% of the earth’s oxygen and while doing so, removes CO2 from the atmosphere.shutterstock deforestation

The Amazon rainforest is also home to countless animals and plants. It contains the highest biodiversity on earth. This includes, for example, tens of thousands of plant species, over 2.5 million insect species, and 3000 fish species. More species live in one square kilometre of the Amazon rainforest than in the whole of Europe. Every two days, a new plant or animal is discovered in the Amazon region. For example, just recently researchers discovered two entirely new species of electric eels, one of which is able to deliver a jolt of record-breaking 860 volts.

As a contraction of the term biological diversity, biodiversity was coined in 1985. Biodiversity derives from the ancient Greek word βίος, meaning “life, course or way of living” and the Latin word dīversitāt-em, meaning “contrariety, disagreement, difference” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED defines it as “diversity of plant and animal life, esp. as represented by the number of extant species.”

shutterstock mangroves
Mangroves protecting a shore line

Some people who live in big cities only encounter wildlife on television, but it is important to remember that everything is interconnected. Humanity relies on biodiversity. Plants producing fresh air or protecting shores from storms, plants or animal species inspiring new inventions or discoveries in sciences, like developing life-saving medicine, to name just a few benefits of biodiversity. Researchers state that without biodiversity, humanity does not have a future.

So, to save itself, humanity should make sure to secure the continued existence of biodiversity, especially protecting the area with the highest biodiversity on earth, the Amazon rainforest.

Find out about the Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union here.


IATE snip biodiversity


CAMS monitors Amazonian fires. Copernicus. https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/cams-monitors-amazonian-fires. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Carrington D. What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/12/what-is-biodiversity-and-why-does-it-matter-to-us. Published March 12, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Deutsche Welle. Amazonas: Üppige Regenwälder, nutzlose Böden: DW: 25.08.2019. DW.COM. https://www.dw.com/de/amazonas-üppige-regenwälder-nutzlose-böden/a-50135514. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Discover the story of EnglishMore than 600,000 words, over a thousand years. Home : Oxford English Dictionary. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/273819?redirectedFrom=biodiversity#eid. Accessed September 13, 2019.

France-Presse A. Shocking news: world’s most powerful electric eel found in Amazon. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/11/shocking-news-worlds-most-powerful-electric-eel-found-in-amazon. Published September 11, 2019. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Scutti S. Here’s what we know about the fires in the Amazon rainforest. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/08/23/americas/amazon-wildfires-411/index.html. Published August 24, 2019. Accessed September 13, 2019.

Foto Annemarie MengerWritten by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.