Why We Should Value Biodiversity
The loss of biodiversity around the globe is an imminent problem that poses a serious danger to the health and livelihoods of many people.
A report from the World Health Organization identifies poor water quality, air pollution and climate change as central causes to the decline in biodiversity, the variety of plants and animals on the planet.
Biodiversity is important for:
- Food and nutrition security
- Development of medicine
- Human health
- Economic prosperity
Today, the central problems related to food and nutrition security are the inequitable distribution of food and the lack of diversification of crops grown. According to the World Farmer’s Organization, “over 2 billion people… suffer from a lack of essential micro-nutrients such as vitamin A and iron”. With the agricultural focus on quantity of staple crops such as millet, corn, and wheat, the value of crop diversity for nutrient sources has been dismissed.
The loss of biodiversity also has implications for the extinction of plants that are currently used in medical practices, or that may have potential to cure diseases in the future. When habitats are changed or over-harvested, plant species are vulnerable to extinction. The Convention on Biological diversity states that, “an estimated 60,000 species are used for their medicinal, nutritional, and aromatic properties”. The trade of these species also has a high economic value that should be considered.
Human health is impacted by a lack of nutrition security and medicinal development associated with loss of biodiversity. In addition, poor water quality from the destruction of wetlands, that filter water, can negatively impact health.
Lastly, many people sustain their livelihoods directly from the land and the biodiversity that it provides. Biodiversity is critical to the health of the environment, and with its destruction there will be an inevitable economic cost.
The good news is that is not too late to preserve biodiversity. If we can understand why biodiversity has an intrinsic value, more resources will be devoted to protecting the environment. While some connections may seem less direct, every person relies on the environment for health and economic growth. It is in everyone’s best interest to protect biodiversity.
– Iliana Lang
Sources: Convention on Biological Diversity, World Farmers’ Organization
Photo: Good Housekeeping