Natural England - Why is biodiversity important ?

Why is biodiversity important ?

England's natural environment matters to us all. The beauty of our landscapes and wildlife inspire and enrich our lives, and are an important part of our national identity.

Although we may not readily appreciate it, biodiversity provides us with many of the things that sustain our lives. Protecting our species and their habitats also improves our quality of life and our standard of living.

Every living thing has a place in what we call the 'balance of nature', and upsetting that balance can have untold effects.

Biodiversity is the source of many ecosystem goods, such as food and genetic resources, and changes in biodiversity can influence the supply of ecosystem services.

Provisioning Services

Products obtained from ecosystems:

  • diverse food products
  • timber and fuel
  • textiles
  • medicinal products
  • fresh water

Regulating Services

Benefits obtained from regulation of ecosystem processes:

  • regulate our climate
  • control floods
  • pollinate crops
  • purify our water
  • absorbs CO2 gases
  • stops erosion

Cultural Services

Non-material benefits obtained from ecosystems:

  • beautiful landscapes
  • a sense of place
  • cultural heritage
  • peace and tranquillity
  • a healthy environment
  • recreation and tourism

Why should we conserve biodiversity?

Biodiversity matters for a whole variety of reasons: ethically, emotionally, environmentally and economically. It is at the very foundation of our society and the basis of our economic success and wellbeing.

  • Because our survival depends upon it
    Living things, the rocks and soils, water and air interact to provide a range of conditions that favour life on Earth. If the ecological systems that support life on Earth collapse or radically change, our very existence is threatened. Soil biodiversity alone influences a huge range of processes and functions vital to ecosystem services.

  • Because our economy and lifestyles depend upon it
    From the harvesting of fish to the growing of timber, biodiversity provides the source for an enormous range of products we consume and use. Many pharmaceuticals, as well as soaps, starches, rubber, oils, dyes, and fabrics, have been derived from wild plant products – and many more are yet to be discovered. At the larger ecosystem scale, biodiversity plays an enormous role in regulation of the atmosphere, of the water cycle and the nutrient cycles of the soil. From flood control to soil conservation, the annual contribution of these services is worth millions. Our report No charge? Valuing the natural environmentexternal link sets out the contribution that nature makes to our economy (such as clean water, carbon storage) to ensure that its value is recognised. 

  • Because it inspires and enriches our lives
    We gain enjoyment and recreation from nature and open spaces. It provides endless motivation for enquiry, from schoolchildren to scientists.

  • Because to do otherwise is wrong
    Many people think it is wrong to let species become extinct and to treat nature as if it has been designed for our convenience.