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Why is Biodiversity Important?



We hear it often–biodiversity is important for the wellbeing of the planet. But why is this the case?

To start, biodiversity is the variety of life found in a place on Earth. This includes animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, and everything that is living. Biodiversity is important because it boosts ecosystem productivity, where every species plays a part, no matter how small. There are a variety of benefits provided by biodiversity. Below we go over a few of them.  

1. Supplying Food  

Biodiversity in food provides a range of nutritious options that meet diverse, cultural, and taste preferences. It also provides “ecological services,” including nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, pest regulation, and pollination. Bees, a critical pollinator pollinate 70 of the, roughly, 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world. Unfortunately, bees are facing a declining population.  

2. Preventing Disease 

It has been shown that higher rates of biodiversity have been linked to an increase in human health benefits. For example, 25% of drugs used for modern medicine are derived from rainforest plants. On the contrary, losses in biodiversity have resulted in increased infectious diseases (three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals). Close contact between humans and wildlife creates the ideal scenario for diseases to spread. For example, experts believe that COVID-19 originated or spread at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.  

3. Fighting Climate Change  

When building resilience in a system, biodiversity is the key player. According to the insurance hypothesis, “biodiversity insures ecosystems against declines in their functioning because many species provide greater guarantees that some will maintain functioning even if others fail.” When we conserve habitats, ecosystems continue their normal functioning of offsetting carbon. When we reduce biodiversity (through farming, logging, development, etc), we reduce nature’s ability to store carbon, thus exacerbating climate change. 

4. Providing Livelihoods  

One point three billion people, one-fifth of the world’s population, depend on forests for employmentThree out of four jobs worldwide are water-dependent. Jobs that restore natural landscapes, as part of the “restoration economy,” provide more jobs in the US than mining, logging, and steel production. These can include organic farming, sustainable fishing, ecotourism, the sustainable management of forests, and much more.  

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