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The biodiversity of plants is so vast that only 5 percent have ever been inventoried.

Biodiversity of Chinese vegetables

The Biodiversity of Chinese vegetables, a vegetable soup like you’ve never tasted before (click for photo credit)

is so vast that only 5 percent have ever been inventoried.

During a trip to China, I entered a grocery store and walked around the vegetable section. I was both surprised and amazed to see the enormous variety of vegetables, and especially to realize that I’d never seen them before in my life!

That’s biodiversity. Many varieties are native to specific areas, even within countries. Fynbos in South Africa, Luzon in the Philippines have a multitude of unique plants.

It goes way beyond a variety of vegetables; it relates to the most fundamental aspects of life here on earth, from the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

This overview blog is intended to highlight ‘ why biodiversity‘. It is not just beauty, all the different species work together to purify the air and water, control rain or drought, and related environmental phenomena. Read about the big push to restore mangroves to their rightful place in the ecology of coastal areas.

Biodiversity and Health

Some of the best known medicines like aspirin, quinine and penicillin come from plant species. Approximately 70% of anticancer drugs are extracted from tropical forest plants.

Only a small fraction, about 5,000 of the estimated 350,000 species of known plants, have been studied for their medicinal properties. How many more discoveries of this biodiversity will yield cures for our health?

Biodiversity and Food

Today we know of some 80,000 edible species of plants on Earth, but did you know that 90% of our flora diet comes from just 20 plants? Quinoa is now in vogue. How many other varieties within this vast biodiversity could help us feed our hungry world?

Increased diversity actually enhances plant resistance to pests as well as growing better in various soils. This variety of strains can help poorer families that count on harvesting their own plots to feed themselves.

Even animal health and nutrition depend on this agrobiodiversity. They instinctively know what’s good and bad for them. Pollinator partnerships with insects, birds and other animals would be on the increase, not to mention soil microorganisms that add fertility so necessary for sane agriculture.

Biodiversity and Economy

We don’t give it much thought but the clothes we wear, their manufactured textile fibres, the wood in our buildings or the floors we walk on originate from biodiversity. Our worldwide industrial economy relies on an assortment of flora to produce products we use on a daily basis: rubber gloves and tires, hand lotions and perfumes. Toilet and writing paper, floor and car waxes and the list goes on, all obtained from biodiverse plants.

Flora and fauna biodiversity is insurance for life on Earth. It’s one more piece with its multitude of diverse components of the puzzle. It all fits together as part of our quest for peace and prosperity. Sign up in the right column for further notifications.


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