The value of biodiversity

circlesBiodiversity is essential for human life. It enriches the quality of human lives in many ways. We derive a range of services and benefits which are both tangible and intangible from biodiversity.

Intrinsic value: Every species has an inherent value and must therefore be protected. We have a moral obligation to protect even those insects that we find annoying and may be tempted to kill on sight.

Ecological value: Each species performs a particular function that is important in maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem. Flies for example, are important in the decay and decomposition process and this is important in returning nutrients to the soil.

Genetic value: Genetic diversity is important for species to be able to adapt to a changing environment. It increases the chances of species survival. It is also important for breeding programs as even with the advanced crop and animal improvement techniques we still rely on genes from nature.

Social value: Biodiversity also has a social value as reflected in local beliefs and values in many societies. Even amongst Swazi’s certain clans traditionally do not eat specific insects or animals because of the social value attached to them.

Economic value: Biological diversity also has an economic value. We derive a range of direct use benefits such as food, fuel, medicine, materials for construction etc. as well as productive use benefits i.e. where we derive monetary income from biodiversity from direct sale or fro products made from biodiversity.

Cultural and spiritual value: Biodiversity also has a cultural and spiritual value. Many cultural practices and ceremonies in the Swazi context are directly dependent on biodiversity. Examples here are the Reed Dance, Lusekwane and Incwala ceremonies. Many denominations use the country’s rivers for baptism and the hillsides and mountains for special prayer services.

Aesthetic and recreational value: Biodiversity is important for our emotional and psychological well-being. We all naturally enjoy a “breath-taking” view of a particular landscape. We find certain places restful. We enjoy seeing plants and animals we are not familiar with. This is an important basis for the tourism industry. People are willing to pay to see well preserved elements of biodiversity.

Scientific and educational value: Our understanding of life is greatly enhanced by the study and research into living organisms, their interactions with each other and the environment.