Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?
” At least 40 per cent of the world’s economy and 80 per cent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change ”United Nations – Convention on Biodiversity
What is Biodiversity?
The variety of life on Earth, its biological diversity is commonly referred to as biodiversity.
The number of species of plants, animals, and microorganisms, the enormous diversity of genes in these species, the different ecosystems on the planet, such as deserts, rainforests and coral reefs are all part of a biologically diverse Earth.
Appropriate conservation and sustainable development strategies attempt to recognize this as being integral to any approach to preserving biodiversity. Almost all cultures have their roots in our biological diversity in some way or form.
Declining biodiversity is, therefore, a concern for many reasons.
Why is Biodiversity Important?
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play.
- A larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops
- Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms
- Healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters.
And so, while we dominate this planet, we still need to preserve the diversity in wildlife.
A healthy biodiversity offers many natural services
A healthy biodiversity provides a number of natural services for everyone:
- Ecosystem services, such as protection of water resources
- Soils formation and protection
- Nutrient storage and recycling
- Pollution breakdown and absorption
- Contribution to climate stability
- Maintenance of ecosystems
- Recovery from unpredictable events
- Biological resources, such as food
- Medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs
- Wood products
- Ornamental plants
- Breeding stocks, population reservoirs
- Future resources
- Diversity in genes, species and ecosystems
- Social benefits, such as research, education and monitoring
- Recreation and tourism
- Cultural values
That is quite a lot of services we get for free!
The cost of replacing these (if possible) would be extremely expensive. It, therefore, makes economic and development sense to move towards sustainability.
A report from Nature magazine also explains that genetic diversity helps to prevent the chances of extinction in the wild (and claims to have shown proof of this).
To prevent the well known and well-documented problems of genetic defects caused by inbreeding, species need a variety of genes to ensure successful survival. Without this, the chances of extinction increases.
And as we start destroying, reducing and isolating habitats, the chances for interaction from species with a large gene pool decreases.