drawing of earth, surrounded by medicine, a cowry shell necklace, a condor, an airplane, and a pile of rice, bread, honey, fruits and vegetables.

Can you imagine a world without biodiversity ? What would you eat? What would you wear? If you can't picture life without biodiversity, it's because it provides us with many things that are necessary in our lives.

Take a look to see what biodiversity gives you!

Biodiversity gives us . . .

A Livable Planet

Biodiversity keeps ecosystems in balance and makes our planet livable.

drawing of girl smelling pink and white flowers

Air to breathe
Plants around the world take carbon dioxide out of the air and put oxygen into it—oxygen that you and other creatures need to breathe .

drawing of boy bending over to drink from a water fountain.

Clean Water
Only about 0.01% of Earth's available water is freshwater. The rest is either salty, frozen, or underground! Forests and wetlands around the world filter our usable water again and again, constantly recycling the water we use for drinking, bathing, and growing crops.

drawing of a honeypot, a bag of rice and a load of bread, along with various fruits and vegetables.

Healthy crops
Bacteria in the soil provide nutrients that help crops grow. Bats, bees, and other insects pollinate food crops. Birds and other predators control pests and improve harvests.

Biodiversity gives us . . .

The Things We Need

The  Earth provides many things that are important to human life.

drawing of boy sitting on a blanket and eating corn on the cob.

We depend on plants and animals for food!

a tube of aloe, with bottles of aspirin and vitamins in the background.

Many of the medicines in your pharmacy have ingredients that come from plants and animals. Plus, more than 4 billion people in the world use traditional medicines that come directly from plants and animals.

drawing of a girl observing a green frog on the floor and drawing it in her sketchpad.

Clothes and more
Many clothes, shoes, paper , and pencils come from raw materials provided by Earth’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity gives us . . .

Bright Ideas

Many great ideas have come from observing the natural world.

drawing of a flying vulture and a jet plane, showing their similar body and wing positions.

Where did the inventors of planes and submarines get their design ideas? They noticed that animals are shaped in special ways that allow them to move easily through the air and water.

drawing of a web with a small spider near the bottom of it.

New Materials
Spider silk is the strongest natural fiber known—stronger than steel of equal weight! And it’s more elastic than nylon. Scientists research spider silk and other natural products to learn more about how we might manufacture materials that work like natural ones.

Biodiversity gives us . . .

The Great Outdoors

Natural areas are great places for outdoor activities.

drawing of girl on a dirt path with trees and mountains in the background.

Sports and Play
Activities like hiking and kayaking keep us healthy and they’re fun too! Without biodiversity, there would be fewer places to go and less to see.

drawing of a boy looking through binoculars at two birds flying above two trees in a field.

Natural Beauty
Pine trees, tide pools, tulips, and you—biodiversity is beautiful and helps us relax!

Biodiversity gives us . . .

Cultural Traditions

Throughout history, biodiversity has inspired creativity and cultural traditions around the world. Some archaeologists study artifacts to learn about how people in the past may have interacted with the natural world. Some cultural anthropologists observe present-day societies to see what role biodiversity plays in today's life.

Cartoon of a simple flute.

In Vietnam and many other countries in Asia, people play flutes made from the stem of bamboo. In East Asia, this plant symbolizes strength and flexibility.

drawing of a rattle, made of a large gourd painted with two vertical stripes and a stick wrapped with fabric and tied with string.

Some Omaha ceremonial rattles are made from gourds.

a drawing of a salmon fish

In Celtic mythology, fish symbolize knowledge. Tasting the Salmon of Knowledge gave Fion, a great mythological hero, all the knowledge that his mind could hold.

Drawing of a Krathong carrying flowers, a lit candle, and burning incense sticks while floating in water.

During the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand, people make Krathongs, or small boats out of banana leaves. They bring their Krathongs to the water, light a candle to put inside, make a wish and let them float away.

A drawing of a necklace with five cowry shells on it.

Many people use cowrie shells to decorate clothing, furniture, masks, and more. The cowrie shell is often used to symbolize wealth. In Africa, cowries from the Indian Ocean were sometimes used as money.

Image Credits:

Illustrations: Eric Hamilton