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Benefits from Biodiversity

21-AUG-2015 14:08

    Agriculture, forestry and fisheries products, stable natural hydrological cycles, fertile soils, a balanced climate and numerous other vital ecosystem services depend upon the conservation of biological diversity. Food production relies on biodiversity for a variety of food plants, pollination, pest control, nutrient provision, genetic diversity, and disease prevention and control. Both medicinal plants and manufactured pharmaceuticals rely on biodiversity. Decreased biodiversity can lead to increased transmission of diseases to humans and increased healthcare costs.

    Benefit from Biodiversity:

    1. Consumptive use Value: The direct utilisation of timber, food, fuel wood, fodder by local communities.

    2. Productive use Value: The biotechnologist uses bio-rich areas to ‘prospect’ and search for potential genetic properties in plants or animals that can be used to develop better varieties of crops that are used in farming and plantation programs or to develop better livestock. To the pharmacist, biological diversity is the raw material from which new drugs can be identified from plant or animal products. To industrialists, biodiversity is a rich store-house from which to develop new products. For the agricultural scientist the biodiversity in the wild relatives of crop plants is the basis for developing better crops.

    3.

    Drug

    Plant Source

    Use

    Atropine

    Belladonna

    Anticholinergic: reduces intestinal pain in diarrhea

    Bromelain

    Pineapple

    Controls tissue inflammation due to infection.

    Caffeine

    Tea, Coffee

    Stimulant of the central nervous system

    Camphor

    Camphor tree

    Rebefacient: increases local blood supply.

    Cocaine

    Cocoa

    Analgesic and local anesthetic: reduces pain and prevents pain during surgery.

    Codeine

    Opium poppy

    Analgesic: reduces pain.

    Morphine

    Opium poppy

    Analgesic: controls pain.

    Colchicine

    Autumn crocus

    Anticancer agent

    Digitoxin

    Common foxglove

    Cardiac stimulant used in heart diseases.

    Diosgenin

    Wild yams

    Source of female contraceptive: prevents pregnancy.

    L-Dopa

    Velvet Bean

    Controls Parkinson’s Disease which leads to jerky movements of the hands

    Ergotamine

    Smut-of-rye or ergot

    Control of hemorrhage and migraine headaches.

    Glaziovine

    Ocotea Glaziovii

    Antidepressant: Elevates mood of depressed patients

    Gossypol

    Cotton

    Male contraceptive.

    Indicine N-oxide

    Heliotropium Indicum

    Anticancer agent.

    Menthol

    Mint

    Rubefacient:  increases local blood supply and reduces pain on local application.

    Monocrotaline

    Cotolaria sessiliflora

    Anticancer agent.

    Papain

    Papaya

    Dissolves excess protein and mucus, during digestion

    Penicillin

    Penicillium fungi

    General antibiotic, skills bacteria and controls infection by various micro-organisms.

    Quinine

    Yellow cinochona

    Anti malarial.

    Reserpine

    Indian snakeroot

    Reduces high blood pressure.

    Scopolamine

    Thorn apple

    Sedative.

    Taxol

    Pacific yew

    Anticancer (ovarian).

    Vinblastine

    Rosy periwinkle

    Anticancer agent: Controls cancer in children

    A variety of industries such as pharmaceuticals are highly dependent on identifying compounds of great economic value from the wide variety of wild species of plants located in undisturbed natural forests. This is called biological prospecting.

    4. Social Values: The consumptive and productive value of biodiversity is closely linked to social concerns in traditional communities. ‘Ecosystem people’ value biodiversity as a part of their livelihood as well as through cultural and religious sentiments. A great variety of crops have been cultivated in traditional agricultural systems and this permitted a wide range of produce to be grown and marketed throughout the year and acted as an insurance against the failure of one crop. In recent years farmers have begun to receive economic incentives to grow cash crops for national or international markets, rather than to supply local needs. This has resulted in local food shortages, unemployment (cash crops are usually mechanised), landlessness and increased vulnerability to drought and floods.

    5. Ethical and Moral Values: Ethical values related to biodiversity conservation are based on the importance of protecting all forms of life. All forms of life have the right to exist on earth. Man is only a small part of the Earth’s great family of species. Indian civilization has over several generations preserved nature through local traditions. This has been an important part of the ancient philosophy of many of our cultures. We have in our country a large number of sacred groves or ‘Deorais’ preserved by tribal people in several States. These sacred groves around ancient sacred sites and temples act as gene banks of wild plants.

    6. Aesthetic Value: Knowledge and an appreciation of the presence of biodiversity for its own sake is another reason to preserve it. Quite apart from killing wildlife for food, it is important as a tourist attraction. Biodiversity is a beautiful and wonderful aspect of nature.

    7. Option Value: Keeping future possibilities open for their use is called option value. It is impossible to predict which of our species or traditional varieties of crops and domestic animals will be of great use in the future.

     

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