Biodiversity is very essential for the health of the biosphere and it provides the raw materials for man to make him adapt to the changing environment. Man derives many direct and indirect benefits from living things. Biodiversity provides ecological services also. The uses of Biodiversity are as follows.
1. Consumptive use value:
It includes food, medicine, fuel, fiber, timber, clothing, etc. 80,000 Species are edible wild plant species. 90% of the crops have been domesticated from wild tropical plants. Many wild animals were also sources of food (now it is banned). 75% of the world’s population depends upon plants for medicine. For instance, penicillin from a fungus namely Penicillium, quinine from a plant namely, cinchonas, tetracycline from a bacterium, and cancer-causing drugs like vinblastine and vincristine from a plant namely, Catharanthus roseus (Nithyakalyani) are obtained.
2. Productive Use Value:
The products are commercially usable. The wild gene resources are traded to introduce desirable traits in the crops and domesticated animals. Productive uses of biological resources are fuel, timber, musk, tusk, ivory, honey, fiber, gums, resins, medicines, silk, wool, etc. Though there is a ban on trade in products of endangered species, illegal smuggling does take place.
3. Social Value:
Biodiversity in India is related to our religious, cultural, and spiritual uses. Many plants like Tulsi, Pipal, Hibiscus, and Datura are considered to be sacred. Peacock, cow, snake, bull, and owl have a place in our spiritual arena.
4. Ethical Value:
We must protect every life. It is based on the concept ‘Live and let live’. we must enjoy watching all animals -Kangaroo, Giraffe, Zebra, etc., though they are not useful to us directly. We should not cage birds for our pleasure and pastime.
5. Aesthetic Value:
Biodiversity provides us with a good deal of fun and recreation. This type of tourism is known as ecotourism which generates 12billion dollars as income per year. If we have a lion in a zoo we get about Rs.2 crores as income per year. But if we kill the lion we get only Rs. 50,000\-. A teak tree fetches Rs.50,000\- if cut down; But if it lives, its value is priceless by way of its ecological role.
6. Option Values or Unknown Benefits :
We must try to explore the potential of Biodiversity for the future benefit of mankind. We must protect the biodiversity to find out drugs to fight diseases like cancer and AIDS.
BIODIVERSITY AT GLOBAL LEVEL:
According to Erwin(1982), 5 to 30 million species of the world are yet to be described and are living in tropical forests. So far only 1.7 million species have been described. These include green plants and fungi (3lakhs), insects (8lakhs), vertebrates (40,000), and microorganisms (3.6 lakhs).
1. 20,000 to 30,000 taxonomists all over the world do serious research and describe name, and classify plants every year.
2. 20,000 species are being discovered and named every year. There are about 2.5lakhs species of plants described so far.
3. The continental drift is a main reason for the increasing diversity.
4. In tropical forests, about 1,25,000 species of flowering plants are considered to be in existence.