Biological diversity is a vital resource for human beings, both for the global community, for each nation and more so for communities. It is at the heart of economic productivity and livelihood today and its conservation and rational use are an absolute necessity to achieve sustainable development. In addition, its protection and maintenance is an insurance policy for future generations – even forms of life that may appear to provide no human benefit now may become important as conditions change over the coming centuries.
From both wild and domesticated components of biodiversity, humanity derives all of its food and many of its medicines and industrial products. Economic benefits from wild species alone make up an estimated 4.5% of GDP of industrialised countries such as the USA. For less developed countries this proportion can be much higher.
The current commercial value of domesticated plant and animal species is even greater – for example in Philippine agricultural production accounts for up to 15 % of GDP. Many benefits, particularly in less developed countries, may not be well represented in purely economic terms but are nonetheless critical for peoples livelihoods.
For example, in the uplands of the Philippines three out of four people look to wildlife for most of their protein and for almost 80% of people in developing countries traditional medicines from the wild form the basis of primary health care.
Biological diversity in its totality forms the living biosphere in which human beings, along with all other species, inhabit and depend upon for their survival. In the remote past, human actions were trivial when set against the dominant processes of nature. This is no longer true and as the human race approaches the close of the 21st Century it is clear from threats of climate change, desertification, land degradation, etc., that at both a national and global level we are using up and destroying the very basis of our future survival.
To the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, biodiversity is as important as land and water. Yet, it is sad that while many advocates of indigenous rights clamor for land and water source ownership, many indigenous peoples themselves are now part of those who are destroying biodiversity. The old traditional systems that used to protect biodiversity is being lost and it may not be long before these are totally forgotten.