Why does biodiversity matter?

August 11, 2023 Research & Conservation

Why does biodiversity matter? This is the sort of question that feels so immense, so integral to our scientific endeavors that it can be surprisingly challenging to articulate, though the conservation and understanding of biodiversity is the core motivation behind our work. 

Biodiversity is nature’s web of life. Species are connected to one another through intricate threads, which weave together a colorful tapestry—all organisms, from a small alpine flower to a rhinoceros play a meaningful role in this tapestry. When we lose a species it weakens the entire fabric, creating a chain reaction that makes it vulnerable to continue unraveling. By valuing each individual thread, we can safeguard the tapestry’s integrity. Imagine a pollinator and flower that co-evolved together—if we lose one, the other would likely be irrevocably affected, which then impacts all species connected to them. 

From a more human-centric point of view, we rely on the services and products provided by nature. These gifts, such as clean air and water, medicine and food security—are often taken for granted. The food on our plates, the wood in our homes, the air we breathe is all the handiwork of biodiversity. Aside from fundamental necessities, there are psychological and aesthetic benefits. Picture a world without vibrant flowers, bumbling bees, and the lush ferns and moss of a forest floor. When we safeguard biodiversity, we protect our own species and the incredible beauty that makes life on Earth feel fulfilling. 

Then there is the intrinsic value, the belief that every species has the right to exist—regardless of its utilitarian benefits. This philosophy proposes that stewardship of the earth is an ethical responsibility—something we owe the living creatures we share this planet with. By protecting biodiversity, we can leave a legacy for future generations—to ensure that they have the resources and beauty that nature provided for us and those before us. 

Biodiversity matters to you if you enjoy playing soccer on freshly mowed grass, reading in the shade of an oak or eating a delicious meal. Each of us has a role to play in preserving biodiversity. In the Research & Conservation Department we protect and conserve biodiversity through documenting and delineating diversity, surveying populations of vulnerable species, collecting seeds of rare plants and studying how to best restore degraded habitat. We aim to work toward a future that is harmonious for all living beings, including ourselves. 

This article was contributed by Alissa Iverson, floristic and outreach coordinator. 


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