Lesson Objectives:- Biological wealth
- Instrumental value
- Intrinsic value
Biological Wealth consists of biota (all living things) and ecosystems that make up the ecosystem capital that sustains human and economic activity with goods and services. To maintain the sustainability of ecosystems, their integrity must be preserved. This includes resilience, natural processes and biodiversity.
There are approximately 8.7 million species on Earth with still millions unidentified and new biological species being identified every year.
Two types of value are assigned to wild species and biodiversity - instrumental value and intrinsic value.
Instrumental value is the value a species or organism has because it benefits another entity by providing food, shelter or a source of income. This also includes value as sources for raw materials, medicines and pharmaceuticals as well as recreational, aesthetic and scientific value.
Intrinsic value means that a species has value for its own sake. Some people argue that animals have certain rights and should be protected. For example, their habitats need to be conserved and they must be protected from experimentation. Others believe that animals should not be used for food, fur or hides at all. On the other side, there are people who believe that animals do not have any rights at all and cannot in any way be compared to the value of human beings or accorded similar status whether their existence or survival takes precedence.
Most of our food comes from agriculture. Domesticated plants over time lose resilience and adaptability.
Wild plants offer desirable traits and also have value as food and new medicines. Scientists encourage maintaining wild versions of cultivated crops as part of a genetic bank. In Kew, England, the Royal Botanic Gardens houses the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB), which has the largest wild seed collection in the world at over 1 billion seeds. In Madagascar, the wild and rare plant rosy periwinkle is a source of two anticancer agents that treat childhood leukemia and Hodgkin's disease.
Wood is a hot community in the world, right after oil and natural gas.
87.5 million people aged 16 or older engaged in outdoor recreation activities in 2006 in the United States. Ecotourism is the practice where tourists visit an area to observe wild species or unique ecological sites, and is the primary source of revenue for many developing nations rich in biodiversity.
There is support for the concept of intrinsic value, or value for its own sake, of species and ecosystems in many religions. In the Judeo-Christian early Old Testament writings, God has concern for wild species that He created. This belief is further extended into the concept of stewardship that is also apparent in other religions ranging from Hinduism to Native American beliefs.
Another rationale for the intrinsic value concept is the preservation of not only species but also land and ecosystems. This view of nature became popular after the publication of Aldo Leopold's famous 1949 essay, "The Land Ethic." Leopold was one of the first scientists to point out the value of both fire and predators in ecosystems. He also advocated for the preservation of wild places or wilderness.