Kids' Environmental Report Card: Biodiversity poll

"Nature provides us with lots of different benefits, like foods and medicines." This statement of fact from the Kids' Environmental Report Card explains why it's important to preserve biodiversity.

A fairly new term in the language of science, biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms in a particular place. It's often used as a measure of the health of fields, forests, lakes, wetlands and other natural habitats. In general, the greater the biodiversity, the healthier these habitats are thought to be.

Foods and Medicines from the Wild

Biodiversity directly affects the welfare and wealth of humans, too. While most of our foods come from farms and ranches, a large percentage is harvested from the wild. Nearly half of our medicines are also made from natural compounds found in plants, animals, and microorganisms. The number of natural medicines could increase greatly in the next few decades, as we study the vast assortment of sources in nature more deeply.

Clearly, our fates and those of the animals and plant around us are closely linked. As American conservationist John Muir wrote, "When we try to pick out something by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

In other words, as many kids voted in the biodiversity poll, "Nothing's more important for a livable planet." That's a good reason to preserve biodiversity, by ensuring the health of the habitats that support it.