How to Learn About the Biodiversity Benefits of Ecosystems

"The value of biodiversity is more than the sum of its parts." ~ Byran G. Norton

At its most basic, an ecosystem is the nature in which all species live. Ecosystems are a key part of the makeup of biodiversity. This article provides a brief introduction of the benefits of ecosystems in the context of biodiversity.


  1. Image titled Learn About the Biodiversity Benefits of Ecosystems Step 1
    Understand what an ecosystem consists of. Ecosystems are made up of many different species. Just as human beings live in communities, so do animals, plants and microorganisms. An ecosystem exists where a community of plants, animals or microorganisms co-exist. There is a wide range of possible ecosystems, which can be as small as a puddle or as large as a desert, forest, wetland, mountain, lake or river.
  2. Image titled Learn About the Biodiversity Benefits of Ecosystems Step 2
    Learn about the concept of ecosystem services. Ecosystems are homes to the animals, plants and microorganisms. In addition, ecosystems provide "services" in the way of natural resources and processes that maintain the conditions for life on Earth. The types of ecosystem services include:
    • Food provision
    • Pollination of plants for food production and plant products
    • Clean air
    • Water for drinking and using
    • Fuel
    • Regulation of water to prevent flooding - for example, mangrove swamps help prevent flooding
    • Waste removal - breaking down of wastes and recycling nutrients; this is important for growing food
    • "Natural insurance" - insurance against future unknown conditions brought about by climate change or other events
    • Cultural value of natural landscapes to people's religious beliefs and leisure activities such as camping and hiking
    • Aesthetics - this means enjoying the natural environment for its own sake.
  3. Image titled Learn About the Biodiversity Benefits of Ecosystems Step 3

    Make a class project on learning more about ecosystems.
    As a class, in groups or individually, prepare projects on different types of ecosystems and demonstrate the benefits derived from each ecosystem. Some ways of doing this include:
    • Preparing a model of an ecosystem (desert, mountain, forest etc.) and highlighting the ecosystem services that can be found in this ecosystem; use arrows, yarn or other indicators to make it clear which services you are highlighting
    • Prepare an ecosystem life-cycle chart. It can be visually helpful to draw large posters of ecosystems with feedback arrows to show the class how ecosystem services work. Leave this on the wall for several weeks so that everyone in the class has an opportunity to see the charts. Ecosystem cycles to consider include water, nitrogen, solar, carbon etc. See the image accompanying this step for an idea of how to put the chart together.
    • Writing small presentation papers on ecosystems and their benefits; perhaps accompany with a slide show (computer or slide projector), photos, images or illustrations
    • Writing a play about living in a certain type of ecosystem and presenting all the negative things about life when the ecosystem services break down. For example, a play set in a village in a deforested environment might show the impacts on a family unable to get clean drinking water, suffering from food shortages and relying on monotype crops. End the play with positive actions for remedying the damage; for example, show the village planting more trees again, putting in a ground well to get underground water supplies and re-introduction of native species of plants and animals.


  • Always prefer recycled materials over new ones when making models and projects at school and home.
  • For teachers: This is a companion article to Understand the Concept of Biodiversity. It might be helpful to use both of these articles in conjunction with another when making lesson plans.

Things You'll Need

  • Project workbook, poster materials or modelling materials
  • Library books and internet access for further research
  • Photos, images and illustrations

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Biodiversity | Science for Kids