The importance of preserving biodiversity is an often misunderstood concept. We’re often left to wonder – Why is it important to preserve biodiversity? There are many things to consider, like economic impact, resource preservation, and even preventing mass extinction events. Read on, as we’ll explore the reasons why preserving biodiversity is such an important task.
1. Ecosystem Productivity
One of the main reasons we should continue to focus on preserving biodiversity is that it helps to boost ecosystem productivity. A proper functioning ecosystem is going to be naturally more resistant to harsh environmental conditions like climate change.
A prime example is when an area is deforested of large amounts of fully grown trees. These trees provide a great deal of protection against soil erosion and more. Once they are removed, the rich topsoil is often carried away in storms or washed away in torrential rains.
2. Medical Discoveries
One of the most important reasons we should continue to work on preserving biodiversity is the large amount of medical discoveries that are waiting to be made. Scientists use the observations of plants, animals, and even microbes to develop innovative cancer treatments and more. As a matter of fact, all human medicines must first be tested in laboratory animals before being tested on humans. This is vital for establishing their toxicity, dosing, as well as efficacy.
Organisms that have contributed essential insights to our knowledge of human genetics include the Common House Mouse, the bacterium E.coli, the bacterium Thermus aquaticus, the microscopic roundworm C. elegans, and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster – just to name a few. These organisms have led to a better understanding of how DNA copies itself, they have contributed to the scientists’ ability of mapping the human genome, and so much more.
Many of the animals used in these discoveries are often found in some of the most remote portions of the world. When you factor in a number of undiscovered species lying hidden in the rainforest, it is clear why we should work to preserve their habitats. By doing this, we can help guarantee that scientists will continue advancing our medical knowledge and more.
3. Natural Beauty and Recreation
Another great reason why we should continue focusing on preserving biodiversity is the importance of natural beauty. There are many historical sites all across the nation like the redwood forest that need to be protected to preserve their status for future generations to enjoy.
In the case of the redwoods, these trees regularly have a lifespan of 600 years. Some are even as old as 2,000. However, their growth is extremely slow. Since the 1850s, logging has destroyed almost 96 percent of the original redwood habitat. What’s left is preserved in historic parks. Even with reseeding efforts, our children’s children will still not see fully matured trees that are being planted now. This is why preserving natural sites now is so important. The damage that is done often takes several generations to recover.
4. Survival of the Species
- Animal waste that feeds the soil.
- Crops also yield straw, which is a source of food for animals.
- Algae serve as natural nitrogen fixers.
- Rodents aerate the soil, thus improving its water-holding capacity.
- Earthworms fertilize the soil.
5. Waste Disposal & More
6. Economic Benefits
When discussing the importance of preserving biodiversity, we can’t avoid mentioning its anthropocentric value. Biodiversity has provided humans with many benefits, and many come in the form of goods. These goods are extracted and sold, and they include everything from crops to medicines.
Yet many of the benefits of biodiversity cannot be priced. We’re talking about ecosystem services, such as climate regulation, air and water purification, and the generation of oxygen and moisture. Nonetheless, a group of ecologists attempting to put a price tag on ecosystem services calculated that they are worth over $3 trillion. Basically, this means that if we were to replace these services, we’d have to pay a sum greater than the entire global GNP.
Although it’s important to look at the economic benefits of preserving biodiversity, many people criticize this approach. They argue that it is too utilitarian and human-centered. This is true if we think of the bias towardsspecies and ecosystems that have an economic value.