Benefits of Biodiversity

It is important to note that the majority of ecological resources that biodiversity provides (see Benefits to Earth) are nearly impossible to replace. For instance, the pollination performed daily by bees and insects would be impractical for humans to attempt. This process cannot simply cease to exist, as “bees are more important than poultry in terms of human nutrition” (Tautz, n.d.).

Wetlands depend on the interlocking of all species present to function correctly and play an essential role in regulation of water flow and detoxification. During heavy rainfall, water that flows into wetlands spreads out and naturally loses its velocity, allowing the environment to naturally filter toxins (EPA, 2010). “Alluvial valleys,” made over time from deposits of gravel, fine sand, and peat, can then absorb large quantities of water and release them later into rivers. As the water passes through the wetland, bacteria in the soil and vegetation eliminate significant quantities of nitrates and other pesticides. The plants themselves remove larger contaminants like silt (NRPA, n.d.). These systems, if left to flourish, prevent flooding and provide humans access to clean water.

Air purification is another process essential to a healthy human civilization. Unclean air has been shown to lead to increased instances of several diseases, especially asthma (Takizawa, 2011) Forests help to reduce arbon dioxide in the air by sequestering the carbon during photosynthesis. They also reduce airborne particulate matter and their root systems absorb more run-off pollution, providing cleaner water. According to American Forests, “a single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen - enough to support two people”(American Forests 2010)

Table 1: Outline of the Benefits of Biodiversity per Biome
Biome Benefits to Humans Benefits to Earth
Wetlands and marshes Marches and wetlands are places where fish spawn, birds lay eggs, and insect populations thrive. Mangroves are filled with native trees, grasses, and brackish water filled with nutrients where animals can thrive. [2] Coastal marshes exist as storm barriers and prevent erosion from mainland habitats. Intricate root systems of march planets create natural water filters, removing pollutants from the water. These systems also protect fish populations from predators and human interaction such as fishing. [2]
Taiga/Boreal Forest The trees of the taiga ecosystems include spruce, pine, cedar, and fir; they provide food for other organisms in the ecosystem in addition to protection, shelter, and breeding grounds for bird species. The trees also provide habitat and food for wildlife, gounded in the old-growth trees. Humans benefit from this wildlife as they can harvest its resources. [1] The tree species in the taiga remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The large roots also help to prevent land erosion. [1]
Rainforest Rainforests are most notable for the hundreds of prescription medications they provide through their rich plant life. One fourth of cancer fighting drugs are made from ingredients found in rainforests around the world. The plants solely in the Amazon rainforest produce more than 20 percent of the world's oxygen. The rainforest contains over 3.000 varieties of fruit as well as a multitude of spices. We obtain many natural resources from the rainforest including fuel and rubber. They are also immense freshwater reservoirs. [3,4] Rainforests maintain a delicate ecosystem balance. Disrupting that balance leads to destruction of the forest in ways that increase air nad water pollution. Rainforests have secondary metabolites that protect plants from insects and disease. Without these plants are more susceptible to any type of intrusion, i.e. human interaction. [3.,4]
Temperate Rainforest Temperate rainforests provide resources for growing human populations. They create foundations of agriculture and forestry that societies need to grow. Much of the food that humans eat is grown in temperate rainforests and healthy forests also provide clean air and water. [5] Temperate rainforests are active in carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, cand limate maintenance through transpiration. Temperate rainforests help preserve high amounts of biomass through mature trees such as redwoods. [5]
Grassland Humans use grasslands for grazing livestock and to growing crops because of the high fertility of the soil. [6,7] The grasslands provide some of the most fertile soil in the world. The grass in grasslands create turf and solid soil - preventing fertile soil from washing away due to rain and other weather conditions. If not protected, strong winds blow loose soil from the ground after plowing, especially during droughts. This causes dust storms. The soil of the temperate grasslands is deep and dark and has fertile upper layers. It is nutrient-rich from the growth and decay of deep, many-branched grass roots. The rotted roots hold the soil together and provide a food source for living plants. The seasonal drought, occasional fires, and grazing by large mammals all prevent woody shrubs and trees from invading and becoming established. [6,7]
Artic/Antarctic Though the benefits for humans may not be profound directly regarding "biodiversity," the Arctics are rich in geothermal resources. The melting of the snow caps not only affects the living diversity in the Arctic, but will cause global issues if left uncared for. The waters from the snow caps will cause unconventional rising of ocean waters. [8] The artic contributes to the richness of biodiversity on the planet. The animals live on the edge of survival and preserve the skills that these organisms need to survive. The permafrost that develops in the Arctic tundra is home to many varieties of animal life and also prevents the invasion of shrubs and spruce that cannot live in the permafrost. [8]
Freshwater Freshwater ecosystems serve as a source of freshwater for humans. This is espcially important now that clean water is becoming scarce. They are also used recreationally by humans: e.g., water sports, fishing, boating, etc. Freshwater bodies give cultural definition to areas and communities that are centered on aquatic practices. [9] These ecosystems serve as a breeding ground for all types of aquatic life. As a result, freshwater biomes have high endemism and high species richness. Estuarial areas act as natural water filtration systems, circulating water throughout ecosystems. [9]
Temperate Deciduous Forest Temperate deciduous biomes have the most human inhabitants and are thus primarily used as living space. The rich soil of the deciduous forests makes provides optimal agricultural area that humans often utilize. Humans also receive wood from these areas as the deciduous forest is home to hardwood trees that have denser wood than most coniferous trees and are therefore more sought. Due to the longevity of the lives of fauna species, temperate deciduous forests contribute to scientific research. [10,11] The health of temperate deciduous forests is an indicator of the health of the globe. Hydrological control, nitrogen fixation, pollination and carbon sequestration are processes that the forests conduct that affect the overall health of the planet. [10,11]

  1. References for Table 1
  2. Adams, A. (2007, May 22). The Rainforest And You: The Benefits We Get From The Rainforest. Free Articles Directory | Submit Articles - Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  3. Carpenter, C. (n.d.). Central Korean deciduous forests (PA0413). Terrestrial Ecoregions. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  4. Darwall, W. R., & Vieé, J. (2005). Identifying important sites for conservation of freshwater biodiversity: extending the species-based approach. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 12(5), 287. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2400.2005.00449.xRetrieved November 24, 2011, from
  5. EPA. (2011, September 29). Marshes. Water: Wetlands. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  6. The grassland biome. (n.d.). UCMP - University of California Museum of Paleontology. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  7. M., S. (n.d.). Grasslands Biome. Blue Planet Biomes. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  8. National Geographic. (n.d.). Tundra. Environment Facts, Environment Science, Global Warming, Natural Disasters, Ecosystems, Green Living - National Geographic. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  9. Replanting the Rainforests. (2009, April 7). Benefits to the Planet. The Importance of Rainforests. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  10. Silverman, H. (2008, July 21). Temperate rain forests. Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  11. The Taiga or Boreal Forest. (n.d.). The Boreal Forest Biome. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from
  12. The Temperate Deciduous Forest. (n.d.). The Temperate Deciduous Forest. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from