The components of biodiversity are important for human health. For centuries, almost all medical treatments were based on plant and animal extracts, and this type of treatment remains essential even today.
Traditional medicine is still used extensively for basic medical care in developing countries and is being rediscovered in our part of the world. Modern medicine is taking a keen interest in these resources in the hope of discovering new cures. Examples of animal and plant species that are useful for medical purposes are given as follows:.
Studies of various chemicals produced by animals have led to discoveries of medicinally useful substances. A substance called Prostaglandin E2, which could be of importance in the treatment of gastric ulcers, was originally discovered in the two species of gastric brooding frogs (Rheobatrachus) found only in the rainforests of Queensland. Unfortunately, both species have not been sighted for some time, and it is conceivable that one at least (R. silus) is now extinct (Tyler, 1989).
In the field of agriculture, the genetic diversity discovered within each type of crop is of considerable importance. It is a major weapon against the treats posed to crops and livestock by pests and diseases. Farmers are now showing a growing interest in the genetic diversity of crops and livestock in order to increase production and cope with changing environmental conditions.