Well-functioning ecosystems are essential for healthy communities. They give safe drinking water, clean air, medicines, and food security. They also help to keep sickness at bay and keep the environment stable. However, biodiversity loss is occurring at unprecedented rates, threatening human health globally, according to a state-of-the-art assessment issued jointly by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
What exactly is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the foundation of all life on Earth and refers to biological variation in all of its manifestations, ranging from the genetic make-up of plants and animals to cultural diversity.
Biodiversity is critical to the functioning of ecosystems and the benefits they provide. The following are some of the advantages or services provided by biodiversity:
- Food, clean water, lumber, fibre, and genetic resources are examples of provisioning services.
- Climate, floods, illness, water quality, and pollination are examples of regulating services. Cultural services include recreational, artistic, and spiritual advantages.
- Soil formation and nutrient cycling are examples of supporting services.
What does biodiversity mean for human health?
People rely on biodiversity in ways that are not often obvious or acknowledged in their daily lives. Human health is ultimately dependent on ecosystem products and services (such as fresh water, food, and fuel sources), which are required for good human health and productive lifestyles.
If ecological services are no longer enough to fulfil social requirements, biodiversity loss can have substantial direct human health consequences. Changes in ecosystem services have an indirect impact on livelihoods, income, local migration, and, on occasion, may even instigate or intensify political strife.
Furthermore, the biological variety of microbes, flora, and fauna gives several advantages in biological, health, and pharmaceutical sciences. Greater awareness of the earth's biodiversity leads to significant medicinal and pharmaceutical breakthroughs. Biodiversity loss may impede the development of new remedies for a wide range of illnesses and health issues.
Threats to Biodiversity and Health
The health repercussions of biodiversity loss are causing considerable worry. Changes in biodiversity have an impact on ecosystem functioning, and major disturbances to ecosystems can result in the loss of life-sustaining ecosystem commodities and services. Biodiversity loss also implies that we are losing many of nature's substances and genes that have previously delivered huge health advantages to humans prior to discovery.
Biodiversity's nutritional influence
Biodiversity has a significant impact on human nutrition because it preserves the long-term productivity of soils and supplies genetic resources for all crops, animals, and marine creatures collected for food. Access to a sufficient supply of a nutritious variety of food is a critical health determinant.
Nutrition and biodiversity are intertwined at several levels: the ecosystem, with food production as an ecosystem function; the species in the ecosystem; and genetic variety within species. The nutritional makeup of foods, as well as varieties/cultivars/breeds of the same food, can vary greatly, altering micronutrient availability in the diet. Healthy local diets with acceptable average nutrient consumption entail the preservation of high biodiversity levels.
Irrigation, fertilizer usage, plant protection (pesticides), and the introduction of crop types and cropping patterns all have an influence on biodiversity, and hence on world nutritional status and human health. Habitat simplification, species loss, and species succession frequently increase community vulnerabilities as a result of environmental receptivity to disease.