8 julio, 2024

importance of the biosphere

What is the importance of the biosphere?

The biosphere is important for living beings for several reasons: it provides food and raw materials, and it is the layer of the Earth where life thrives, thanks to the interaction of soil, air and water with solar energy.

The biosphere coincides with the solid superficial part of the Earth, which serves as a support and which, at the same time, is affected by the dynamics of life. This «solid part» includes, in addition to the continental surfaces, the liquid and gaseous envelopes of our planet, whose interactions are vital for the functioning of life on Earth.

It was the Russian chemist Vladimir Verdadjsky who raised, in 1929, for the first time the possibility of a planetary vision that started from a functional rather than a descriptive point of view, conceiving the biosphere more than as a substratum, as a complex system organized by its own rules.

This was relatively new, especially in contrast to the descriptive biological positions that prevailed at the time. This idea is currently used in ecology and applied biology and is taken as a principle in other biological sciences.

Currently, the biosphere is understood as a unified system, with specific properties and synthetic capacities, which behaves like a large, complex living mass, with internal relationships at multiple levels.

Reasons that justify the importance of the biosphere

1. Produces organic matter

Through oxygenic photosynthesis, the production of oxygen and nitrogen that occurs in the biosphere is responsible for virtually all the biochemical processes of organic matter production through the complete carbon cycle, which involves both terrestrial and oceanic substrates.

2. It allows life on Earth

The biosphere is literally the living layer that covers the earth’s surface. This includes the uppermost part of the Earth’s crust, as well as rivers, seas, lakes, oceans, and even the lower part of the atmosphere.

The balance between all these parts allows the existence of life on Earth, including humans..

3. Provides food and raw material

The biota, that is, the set of living elements of the biosphere, is the vital component that provides humanity with the raw materials it needs to survive: food, fiber and fuel..

4. Clean the environment of toxins

Through the natural cycles of biomodification decomposition, in the biosphere the Earth gets rid of toxins and components that, in excess, can be harmful to life.

In this way, carbon dioxide, for example, is used in the photosynthesis process and organic waste is reused by biota.

5. It is the substrate of the trophic chain

The trophic chain is the biological chain that exemplifies the current of energy and nutrients that are established in the different species of an ecosystem. As all living beings inhabit the biosphere, this is the vital element for the survival of the species.

6. Conserve biological diversity

Through biosphere reserves, designated by UNESCO as areas made up of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems, recognized by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program.

7. Maintains the original environment of indigenous peoples

Societies that have lived since ancient times in close contact with nature need the conservation of the biosphere for their existence.

The participation of local communities in the conservation and preservation of the environment allows their own survival and the conservation of their original traditions and ways of life.

8. Provides pharmaceutical compounds

In reality, all the compounds that have always been used in the pharmaceutical industry are derived to a greater or lesser extent from compounds that are found naturally in the terrestrial biosphere.

The biological investigations that occur recurrently in areas of high biological density, such as Southeast Asia and the Amazon in South America, have provided researchers with new elements that have been implemented in pharmaceutical treatments and medicines, ranging from chemotherapy to beauty.

9. It can serve as a marker of contamination

The study and control of its composition can function as an efficient and adequate marker to control the levels of terrestrial contamination and verify if in effect public policies and international agreements have had a real and positive impact on the current levels of planetary contamination.

In this way, from the information extracted from the study of the biosphere, historical and perhaps even interregional comparisons can be established that show the changes and variations in the levels and ecosystems affected by pollution..

10. It can help track contaminants

The study of the composition of the biosphere can show exactly what the pollutants caused by anthropogenic action on Earth are and how they act.

In this way, States and international organizations can implement research and public policies that are adapted to the contaminants present in the environment that they intend to preserve.


UNESCO (s/f): Biosphere Reserves. Available in Spanish at unesco.org.

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