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The Importance Of Biodiversity

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A diverse array of species is necessary to maintain ecosystem functions and the ecosystem services upon which humans depend. For example, when water flows through a wetland ecosystem, the water is purified of chemical wastes. Wetlands also help in moderating the flow of water, which thereby minimizes flooding. Wetlands are increasingly being destroyed or degraded, in the United States 50% of wetlands have been damaged, which results in the loss of these services. The destruction of the wetlands that lay along the Gulf Coast is believed to have greatly contributed to the devastating floods associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 (Christensen). Biodiversity helps ecosystems respond quickly to disturbances and environmental changes, with the loss of wetlands comes the loss of regulatory and support services, which results in more property damage and deaths from already devastating natural disasters. Biodiversity is harvested in popular activities such as fishing, hunting, lumbering, and trapping for meat and furs. Rare plants can be dug up for sale to gardeners or they can be collected to make medicines, and forest trees can be cut down to provide wood for construction or to be used as fiber for paper. These direct uses of biodiversity are economically significant, for example over 100 million metric tons of wild fish are harvested each year which provides roughly “20% of the animal protein consumed by humans” around the world
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