Plants and animal species are important to the ecological balance on which all life forms, including humans, depend. Plants and animals are important food, pharmaceutical and chemical resources. Such vital resources should not be taken for granted and must be protected.
Plants are at the base of the food chain. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants produce food. When humans consume plants or animals that eat plants, they get energy that fuels life.
Life-saving medicines are derived from plants, animals and other living organisms. "More than a third of our pharmaceuticals originated with wild plants," states the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The more than one million plant and animal species, including 4,000 fish species, associated with coral reefs provide food for subsistence fishermen in many communities throughout the world.
Scientists continue to develop new food crops from wild plants which can prove beneficial to sustaining human life if domestic crop supplies are depleted or wiped out by disease, according to the EDF.
There are about 100,000 known tree species throughout the world. Trees are crucial to human life because they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, prevent erosion, provide building materials and serve as windbreaks.
"As forests, wetlands, prairies, coastal estuaries and other habitats are converted to residential, commercial or agricultural use and other types of development, wild plants and animals vanish," warns the EDF. This will have direct bearing on the sustainability of human life.