Biodiversity has contributed a lot to the development of human culture and, in turn, human communities have played an important role in shaping the biodiversity at the genetic, species and ecological levels.
Biodiversity is important in the following ways:
- Ecological role: Species of many kinds perform some of the other functions in an ecosystem. Every organism, besides fulfilling its own needs, also contributes something useful to different other organisms in the environment. Species capture, store and utilise energy, produce and decompose organic materials, are part of cycles of water and nutrients throughout the ecosystem, fix gases in the atmosphere and also help regulate the climate. Thus, they help in soil formation, reducing pollution, protection of land, water and air resources. These functions of biodiversity are important for ecosystem functions and stability.
- Ecosystem services: Biodiversity underpins the basis of all the ecosystem services on the planet.
- Provisioning Services: Various plants, animals and microorganisms which form the biodiversity, provide us with foods such as cereals, fishes etc. , fibre for our clothes such as cotton, wool etc., fuelwood for survival as well as pharmaceutical products such as neem, tulsi etc.
- Regulating services: Biodiversity regulates the local as well as global climate, manages the global levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases, maintains freshwater quality by vegetation slowing runoff, absorbs carbon by acting as carbon sinks etc. Thus biodiversity regulates the life and life processes on the planet.
- Supporting services: Biodiversity helps in pollination, nutrient cycling as well as recycling, greenhouse gas reduction by sequestration.
- Social and cultural services: Biodiversity provides us with aesthetic pleasure. It provides recreational avenues and rich biological diversity encourages tourism in the region. Many communities and cultures have co-evolved with the surroundings and the resources provided by a biologically diverse environment. Hence, it performs an important social role as well. Important services which are provided by biodiversity are:Recreation and relaxationTourism especially ecotourismArt, Design and inspirationSpiritual experiences and a sense of place
- Food web maintenance: Biodiversity helps in maintaining food webs as higher the diversity of an ecosystem, more complex is going to be the food webs because there are so many options to eat. Therefore, higher chances of survival of every species are there. This results in more stable food chains and food webs.
- Scientific role: Biodiversity help in scientific research, education and monitoring. For example, research about new genetic materials with the help of gene pools. Biodiversity, thus, helps in understanding the functioning of life and the role that each species plays in sustaining ecosystems of which we humans are also a part.