Biodiversity refers to the variety of every living thing, including plants, bacteria, animals, and humans in a particular ecosystem. It is very important for a habitat to contain a desirable amount of diversity. More specifically, it is referred to all of the species in one region or ecosystem.
Vast areas of biodiversity, called hot spots, can be found in our oceans, in the tropics, and also in the traditional landscapes. The variety of species found on earth are too many that only a fraction of these 1.8 million species has been scientifically recorded. In fact, biodiversity is not evenly distributed. Climate and other geographical factors also have somehow led to certain regions with a particularly high density of species and genetic resources. Tropical rainforests, for example, are thought to hold 50 to 70 percent of all plants and animals on our planet. This is why biodiversity is important.
Why Biodiversity is Important?
Biodiversity is important to the whole world. Biodiversity is also considered to have intrinsic value too. Each species has a value and a right to exist. Also, any deterioration in the condition of biodiversity can affect human wellbeing.
There are considered to be 5 core values that humans place on biodiversity :
Many livelihoods (farmers, fishers, and timber workers) are directly dependent on biodiversity. It is the biodiversity that provides humans with raw materials for consumption and production.
Ecological life support :
To create functioning ecosystem biodiversity is important. Ideal biodiversity supplies oxygen, clean air, and water, pollination of plants, pest control.
Many recreational pursuits, such as birdwatching, hiking, camping, and fishing, along with our tourism industry depends on biodiversity. So, this is why biodiversity is important in our materialistic life.
Human culture is closely connected to biodiversity. It is inspired by spiritual and aesthetic appreciation. Humans have strong connections and obligations to biodiversity arising from spiritual beliefs about animals and plants. It is the medium of expressing identity.
Biodiversity helps us to understand the natural world and its origins. Biodiversity provides many valuable systematic ecological data. We gather knowledge of evolution and variation for biodiversity. This is why biodiversity is important for scientific research work.
Biologists estimate that species extinctions are currently 500–1000 times the normal rate seen previously in Earth’s history. These high rates may cause a decline in the biodiversity of the planet in the next century. The loss of biodiversity will include many species we know today. Although, already many are listed as endangered. However, many extinctions will affect species that have not even been discovered yet. Most of these species that will become extinct currently live in tropical rainforests. Rainforests like Amazon are the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. But they are being destroyed rapidly. According to recent studies between 1970 and 2020, almost 30 percent of the Amazon rainforest was lost because of deforestation.
Again, almost 500 species of cichlids (one family of fishes that are present) were found in Lake Victoria before the introduction of an exotic species in the 1980s and 1990s, which caused a mass extinction. Very sadly, all of these species were found only in Lake Victoria, which is to say they were endemic means, they can be found in just one location.
More sophisticated measures of diversity take into account the relative abundances of species. To understand why biodiversity is important more clearly we can consider the following scenarios. Imagine a forest with 10 equally common species of trees; surely it is more diverse than a forest that has 10 species of trees where there are just one of those species that makes up 80 percent of the trees. Biologists have also identified some alternate measures of biodiversity. These measures are important in planning how to preserve biodiversity. The loss of an ecosystem means the loss of the interactions between species. So far, it leads to the loss of biological productivity that an ecosystem is able to create.
Importance of Biodiversity:
The world is full of distinct ecosystems, made up of diverse flora and fauna. Many species, such as insects, remain largely undiscovered. Biodiversity plays a key role in providing numerous irreplaceable services. What was once common in our grandparents’ time is now absent in many places. Understanding the state and trend of biodiversity is crucial. We must think about what we leave behind for our grandchildren.
The importance of biodiversity for numerous industries across the world has not been quantified, but recent issues exemplify our ongoing reliance on functioning ecosystems to maintain key processes that, in the past, may have been taken for granted. For instance, the role of native insects in pollination, which is critical for agriculture, has been highlighted in recent years reliance on iconic natural assets and destinations.
Nature is the basis of our life. High biodiversity helps to secure our life on earth now and for generations to come. Because the most important principle of survival in nature is biodiversity, as it fosters stability. Only with high biodiversity and also species of a wide genetic variety can naturally cope with change ( eg. different climatic conditions or new diseases and pests). However, the extinction of a species is irreversible. It creates incalculable risks. Besides animals and plants play a role in the ecosystem and have an intransitive value, which clearly explains why biodiversity is important globally.
Many plants produce some biochemical compounds. These compounds are meant to protect the plant from insects and other animals that eat them. Some of these compounds also work as human medicines. Many medications are derived from natural chemicals made by these diverse groups of organisms. Many societies that live close to the land often have a broad knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants growing in their area. Even the other great apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have all been observed self-medicating with plants. Modern pharmaceutical science also recognizes the importance of these plant compounds. Aspirin, codeine, digoxin, atropine, and vincristine are some examples of significant medicines derived from plant compounds. This is why biodiversity is important for human health. Many medications were once derived from plant extracts but are now synthesized. It had been estimated lately that, at one time, 25 percent of our modern drugs contained at least one plant extract. Gradually that number has probably decreased to about 10 percent because the natural plant ingredients are replaced by synthetic versions of the plant compounds. Antibiotics are responsible for extraordinary improvements in health and lifespans in developed countries. These antibiotic compounds are largely derived from fungi and bacteria.
Animal venoms and poisons have many medicinal potential. As well, they are very important for research. These toxins are used to treat diseases such as hypertension, chronic pain, and diabetes. These medicines represent billions of dollars in profits. Pharmaceutical companies are actively looking for new natural compounds that can function as medicines. It is estimated that one-third of pharmaceutical research and development is spent on natural compounds and that about 35 percent of new drugs brought to market between 1981 and 2002 were from natural compounds.
More than 10,000 years ago, human groups have been selecting crop varieties and breeding. For example, potatoes cultivation began around 7,000 years ago in the central Andes of Peru and Bolivia. The people in this region traditionally lived in relatively isolated areas separated by mountains. About seven species of potatoes used to grow in that region and nearly thousands of varieties existed. It is seen that every variety has been bred to thrive at particular elevations and soil and climate conditions. So far, this diversity is driven by the diverse demands of the significant elevation changes, the limited movement of people. Also, there raise demands created by crop rotation for different varieties that will do well in different fields. Every plant, animal, and fungus that has been cultivated by humans has been bred from original wild ancestor species. They were bred into diverse varieties arising from the demands for food value, adaptation to growing conditions, and resistance to pests. In fact, the chief benefit of maintaining crop biodiversity is pest management. On the other hand, a lack of diversity in crop species carries a higher risk of extinction. Mostly the seed companies are the source of most crop varieties in developed countries now. They aim to continually breed new varieties to keep up with evolving pest organisms. Also these same seed companies, however, have participated in the decline of the number of varieties available. As they focus on selling fewer varieties in more areas of the world replacing traditional local varieties. That is why biodiversity is important.
Moreover, the discovery of new crop varieties relies on the diversity of varieties available. And also to the availability of wild forms related to the crop plant. Most importantly these wild forms are often the source of new gene variants. These variants can be bred with existing varieties. Like this, scientists create varieties with new attributes. So, the loss of wild species related to a crop means the loss of potential in crop improvement. So far, maintaining the genetic diversity of wild species is related to domesticated species. So, biodiversity ensures our continued supply of food.
Although most of the crops are largely under our control. But, our ability to grow them is dependent on the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they are grown. Moreover, biodiversity creates conditions. Under which conditions, crops are able to grow. On the other hand, most crops are not grown in built environments. They are grown in soil. Although some agricultural soils are continuously rendered sterile using controversial pesticide treatments. Most of its elements contain a huge diversity of organisms that maintain nutrient cycles breaking down organic matter into nutrient compounds that crops need for growth. Unfortunately, these organisms also maintain soil texture that affects water and oxygen dynamics in the soil that are necessary for plant growth. In fact, replacing the work of these organisms in forming arable soil is not practically possible. So, these kinds of processes are called ecosystem services.
Additionally, humans may compete for their food with crop pests, most of which are insects. Pesticides control these insects, but these come with higher costs as they damage the soil and also lose their effectiveness over time as pest populations adapt. Most of the time, these lead to collateral damage by killing non-pest species as well as beneficial insects. They also risk the health of agricultural workers and consumers.
Wild Food Sources:
Why biodiversity is important for food sources? The answer must be, the growing crops and animals also raising food for humans. Humans obtain food resources from wild populations ( eg. wild fish populations). About one billion people depend on it. However, aquatic resources provide the main source of animal protein. But since 1990, the production from global fisheries has declined significantly. Despite considerable effort, few fisheries on Earth managed sustainability and ensured their existence.
Moreover, fishery extinctions rarely lead to the complete extinction of the harvested species. The main reason behind id radical restructuring of the marine ecosystem. In this way, a dominant species is so over-harvested that ecologically it becomes a minor player. However, humans are losing their food source; and also, these alterations affect many other species in such ways that may be difficult or impossible to predict. We can say that the collapse of fisheries has a long-lasting effect on local human populations that work in the fishery sectors both directly and indirectly. Besides, we may lose an inexpensive protein source. As a result, the populations that cannot afford to replace it will increase the cost of living. In general, it is witnessed that the fish taken from fisheries have shifted to smaller species. As a result, the larger species are overfished. So, the ultimate outcome could clearly be the loss of aquatic systems as food sources. So this is why biodiversity is important.
Biodiversity is an important issue throughout the world. The loss of many species in the last two decades has bought this topic under the spotlight. It is assumed that the extinction rate of species due to human influences is higher than the natural rate by a factor of 1,000 to 10,000. Very unfortunately several thousand animals and plant species disappear every year. Currently, scientists estimated that approximately 26,000 species are on the verge of extinction. Many marine fish stocks are also endangered. Not only animal and plant species but also numerous ecosystems around the world are endangered. So, we all should realize why biodiversity is important and build awareness about it. It is high time that we become more concerned about biodiversity and join together hand in hand to build a greener future.