Biodiversity provides a variety of environmental services from its species and ecosystems that are essential at the global, regional and local levels. Biodiversity is essential for preserving ecological processes, such as fixing and recycling of nutrients, soil formation, circulation and cleansing of air and water, global life support, maintaining the water balance within ecosystems, watershed protection, maintaining stream and river flows throughout the year, erosion control and local flood reduction. Food, clothing, housing, energy, medicines are all resources that are directly or indirectly linked to the biological variety present in the biosphere.
- Consumptive use value: A straight consumptive use is the direct utilization of timber, food, fuelwood and fodder by local communities. The diversity of organisms provide food, clothing, shelter, medicines, proteins, enzymes, papers, sports goods, musical instruments, beverages, narcotics, pets, zoo specimens, tourism and raw material for business prospects etc.
- Productive use value: This category comprises of marketable goods. The biotechnologist uses bio-rich areas to prospect and search for potential genetic properties in plants or animals that can be used to develop better varieties of crops for use in farming and plantation programs or to develop better live stock. To the pharmacist, biological diversity is the raw material from which new drugs can be identified from plant or animal products. To industrialists, biodiversity is rich storehouse from which to develop new products. For the agricultural scientist, the biodiversity is the basis for developing better crops. A variety of industries, like pharmaceuticals are highly dependent on identifying compounds of great economic value from the wide variety of wild species of plants located in undisturbed natural forests called “biological prospecting”.
- Social values: Social value of biodiversity prospecting motivated habitat conservation in some areas, as traditional societies valued it as a resource. Ecosystem people value biodiversity as a part of their livelihood as well as through cultural and religious sentiments. A great variety of crops have been cultivated in traditional agricultural systems and permitted a wide range of produce to be grown and marketed throughout the year and acted as an insurance against the failure of one crop. In recent years, farmers have begun to receive economic incentives to grow cash crops for national or international markets, rather than to supply local needs. This has resulted in local food shortages, unemployment, landlessness, and increased vulnerability to drought and floods.
- Ethical and moral values:Ethical values related to biodiversity conservation are based on the importance of protecting all forms of life against illegal activities like cloning of animals, smuggling of valuable biodiversity instances, bio-piracy, illicit trade etc. In India, several generations have preserved nature through local traditions. However, immediate benefit rather than ethics appears to be modern man’s objective.
- Aesthetic value: Biodiversity is a direct source of pleasure and aesthetic satisfaction – its contribution to quality of life, outdoor recreation and scenic enjoyment. They provide opportunities for recreational activities such as hiking, canoeing, bird watching, river rafting, rock climbing, trekking, parasailing, bird watching and nature photography. The designing of thousands of new horticultural species, wild life conservation, landscape luxury, national parks, zoological and botanical gardens, snake, crocodile, butterfly parks, and biotechnologically manipulated novel curios species added to the existing aesthetics.
- Option value: Keeping future possibilities open for their use is called ‘option value’. It is impossible to predict which of our species or traditional varieties of crops and domestic animals will be of greatest use in the future. Important ecosystem services and uses for plants and animals are still unknown and await discovery. It becomes valuable if targets are based on policy of obtaining wealth from wastes.