Values & Biodiversity at Global, National and Local Level

The word biodiversity is a combination of two words: “biological and diversity” and refers to the variety of life on the Earth. Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems.

Values of Biodiversity at Global, National and Local Level



The value of biodiversity (in terms of its commercial utility, ecological services, social and aesthetic values) is enormous. There are several ways that biodiversity and its various forms are Valuable to humans. The biodiversity value may be classified as follows:


Biodiversity is an essential requirement for the maintenance of global food supply. The main sources of human food include animals, fish and plant produces. A large number of plants are consumed by human beings as food. A few animal species are consumed by people which come from cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, buffaloes, chickens, ducks, geese and turkey species.

Fish: Many fresh water fish can be grown in ponds. Israel and China already get about half of their fish from aqua culture.

Drugs & medicines: About 75% of the world’s population depends upon plants or plant extracts for medicines. The drug Penicillin used as an antibiotic is derived from a fungus called Penicillium. Likewise, Tetracycline from bacteria which is used to cure malaria is obtained from the bark of cinchona tree.

Fuel: The fossil fuels like coal, petroleum products and natural gas are the products of biodiversity.


Some of the organisms are commercially usable where the product is marketed and sold. The animal products like tusks of elephants; musk from deer; silk from silkworm; wool from sheep or goats; fur of many animals etc all of which are traded in the market.

Eg: Calabar bean was tradionally used as a poison in West Africa.
Daisy plants were first used as a lice remedy in the Middle East and this led to the Discovery of Pyrethrum. Mosquito coils made from Pyrethrum are sold in the market. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis produces toxic proteins that kill certain insects.


These are the values associated with the social life, religion and spiritual aspects of the people. Many of the plants are considered to be sacred in our country like Tulasi, Mango leaves, Banana leaves . The leaves, fruits, flowers of some of the plants are used in worship. Many animals like cow, snake, bull, peacock also have significant place in spiritual and thus hold special importance. Thus, biodiversity has distinct social value, attached with different societies.


The ethical value means that human beings may or may not use a certain species but knowing the very fact that this species exists in nature gives pleasure.

For eg: A peculiar species of Pigeon, grey / white bird with short legs is no more on this earth. Similarly, Dodo species is also no more. Human beings are not deriving anything direct from Kangaroo, giraffe but strongly feel that these species should exist in nature.


Every one of us would like to visit vast stretches of lands to enjoy the visible life. People from farther areas, spend a lot of time and money to visit wild life areas where they can enjoy the aesthetic value of biodiversity and this type of tourism is known as eco tourism.

Eco-tourism is estimated to generate 12 billion dollars of revenue annually that roughly gives the aesthetic value of biodiversity.

A study of the impact of environment on the psyche was undertaken by Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) in which they found that being near nature relieved working stresses while people who worked in closed environment or human made structures experienced much more job stresses and illnesses.


The enormous diversity of life forms in the biosphere has evolved essentially through the process of trial and error during course of organic evolution. The changes in character of living organism which confer some advantage to the species are retained. The changes in climatic conditions are reflected in the distribution of living organism and the pattern of biodiversity on our planet. The number of species present per unit area decreases as we move from mild tropics to the tundra's.

The Indian region (8° to 30° N and 60° to 97.5°) with total area of 329 million hectares is very rich in biodiversity. It is estimated that about 4500 species of plants occur in this country. The position of Indian sub-continent at the confluence of there biogeography reels is also an important contributing factor and explain the preserve of African, European, Sind, Japanese and Indo-Malayan elements in the flora and fauna in India. It is the sum total of such remarkable diversity that has made India a "gene bank" for a number of food crops, forest trees, medical and aromatic plants and domesticated animal.

Forests are important bioreserves; most of the 1700 million hectares of tropical forests are located in poor countries. The forests surrounding Reo de Aneroid are part of vegetation which is rich in species of plants and animals that are endemic. There are about 53.5% of trees species found only in these forests and studies of birds, reptiles, primates and butter flies have revealed equally high or higher endemics.


India contains a great wealth of biodiversity in the forests, wet lands and marine areas. Hence biodiversity can be observed at all levels ie locally, nationally and globally . India, as a subcontinent representing a major part of South Asia is rich in flora and fauna and hence it is one of the world’s “MEGADIVERSITY NATIONS” . It is estimated that over 75000 species of animals and over 45000 species of plants are found in India.

Biogeographic regions of India

According to wild life Institute of India, the country has 10 distinct biogeographic zones or regions. They are:
1. Trans – Himalayan Zone
2. Himalayan Zone
3. Desert Zone
4. Semi – arid Zone
5. Western Ghats
6. Deccan Zone
7. Gangetic plain Zone
8. NE Indian Zone
9. Coastal Zone
10. Islands around the country


Areas which exhibit high species richness as well as high species endemism are termed as hot spots of biodiversity. Species which are restricted only to particular areas are known as endemic. India shows a good number of endemic species. About 62% of amphibians and 50% of lizards are endemic to India. Western Ghats are the site of maximum endemism. The term “Hot spots” was introduced by Myers (1988). There are 25 such hot spots of biodiversity on a global level out of which two are present in India, namely the Eastern Himalayas and Western Ghats. These hotspots covering less than 2% of the world’s land area are found to have about 50% of the terrestrial biodiversity. According to Myers an area is designated as a hotspot when it contains at least 0.5% of the plant species as endemics.

a) Eastern Himalayas

They display an ultra-varies topography that fosters species diversity and endemism. Recent studies have shown that North East India along with its contiguous regions of Burma and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Schezwan is an active center of organic evolution and is considered to be the cradle of flowering plants. Out of the world’s recorded flora 30% are endemic to India of which 35000 are in the Himalayas.

b) Western Ghats

It extends along a 17000 km² strip of forests in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala and has 40% of the total endemic plant species. The major centers of diversity are Agastyamalai Hills and Silent valley- the new Amambalam Reserve Basin. It is reported that only 6.8% of the original forests are existing today while the rest has been deforested or degraded, which raises a serious cause of alarm, because it means we have already lost a huge proportion of the biodiversity.

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