Published on 08/05/2011
First Update 17/03/2017
Biodiversity is of immense value. It plays a very significant role in enriching the soil, maintaining the water and climate cycle, humidity precipitation and recycling and conversion of waste material into nutrients. Food, medicine and raw material for industrial and house hold purposes are obtained from many living resources. Conservation is therefore imperative, conservation for the sake of ethical considerations – we share our planet with other species – we have no right to exterminate them. We should realise that our only living companions in the universe have a right to live. They have to be conserved for the sheer beauty that they possess. The beauty of the birds, fishes, butterflies and the glass like shells of the diatoms. A beauty and sophistication of form and functions which cannot be replicated by the most imaginative man.
We are all aware of the direct economic importance of biodiversity in food and medicine. Ayurveda is an outstanding example. Vincristine and Gliotoxin alongwith antibiotics are just one in a million advantages of biodiversity applications to the benefit of mankind.
Biodiversity has indirect economic values too. The basic dependence of humanity on other organisms is through the process of photosynthesis, primary production and the food chain. Plants also help in the regulation of the water cycle.
A single corn plant with a dry weight of a few pounds at maturity transfers some sixty gallons of water from the soil to the atmosphere during its brief life span of a few months.
The amount of water that a single rain forest tree returns to the atmosphere in its lifetime of 100 years or more could be a stupendous 2.5 million gallons. Various organisms especially bacteria help run vast chemical cycles in which elements such as Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulphur and Phosphorus circulate on a global scale. Plants also help to break rocks and form soil. The emergence of photosynthesis has been one of the most important factor in the colonisation of the terestrial habitat from a predominantly aquatic environment. The disposal and decomposition of wastes and the recycling of nutrients are two very important services provided by living organisms. Decomposers invade and devour organic matter and convert them into simple constituents that in turn serve a new as nutrients.
Biological nitrogen fixation through root nodule bacteria is an important
process in the nitrogen cycle. While natural systems are providing stable climates, water, soils and nutrient balance, they are also helpful in pollination and pest control. The magnitude of services provided by natural ecosystems is so high that there is no distant possibility of Humans trying to substitute them. Loss of natural habitats, therefore is a loss to mankind. There is little to suggest that humanity will be able to substitute adequately for the ecosystem services that will be lost as the epidemic of extinction now underway escalates.