The term biosphere (from Greek bios for life) comprises all parts of the system Earth in which life exists as well as all living beings – including man and all plants and animals used by them.

Life on Earth is concentrated mainly on the solid surfaces of Earth and the upper parts of the oceans. However, highly specialized lifeforms have been found in the deepest parts of the oceans and in the Earth crust in depths of 5 kilometers, too. The total mass of life on Earth has been estimated to exceed 1,800 billion tons. With 2,200 million tons a bit more than one thousandth of the total mass is attributed to animals.

Biodiversity is a key aspect of the biosphere, as a stable and preferably high number of different species is important for the stability of ecosystems. Therefore nature protection activities aim at preserving a high biodiversity despite manifold negative impacts of human activities on the system Earth.

Select your Case Study:

Agriculture – Irrigation patterns
Ha’il, Saudi Arabia
Fossile groundwater makes crops in the desert possible.
New Valley, Egypt
Agriculture in the desert is enabled by diverting water from the Nile River.
El Ejido, Spain
Large area greenhouses produce vegetables for the European markets.
Agriculture – Droughts and desertification
Lake Oroville, U.S.A.
Agriculture in California heavily depends on water from storage dams.
Almendra Dam, Spain
In the arid southwest of Europe,agriculture is challenged by repeated droughts.
Deforestation – conflict with nature protection
Santa Lucia, Bolivia
In the Amazon Basin, reclamation of agricultural land is often related to deforestation.
Madre de Dios, Peru
Loss of forests has many reasons, mining activities are one of them.
Forest fires
British Columbia, Canada
Forests are more and more threatened by fires.
Southeast Australia, Australia
In Southeast Australia, extended bushfires are a common threat to life.
Phytoplankton blooms
Taihu Lake, China
High nutrient concentrations caused by human landuse can destabilise ecosystems.
Fishery and aquaculture
Tianjin, China
Large areas along the coasts of China are reshaped to produce fish and other marine products.
Natural heritage – nature protection zones
Doñana National Park, Spain
The close vicinity of agricultural land and the national park pose challenges to the management of both.
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