Plant life and trees are critical to the survival of humans, and to the regulation of ecosystems and the environment.
We use plants for many uses critical aspects of society, and in this guide, we list the most important types of plants that help humans survive.
Summary – Most Important Plant Life
The list might be:
All land based trees, seaweed and plant life
Rainforest plant life (particularly tropical rainforest plant life)
Plants used for food, and agriculture
Plankton (phytoplankton, and zooplankton)
Other plant life and vegetation
Food, clothing and textiles, construction, industrial activity, medicine, chemicals, gardening and science are all some of the most important ways we might use plants as humans.
Being a bottom of the food chain food source, maintaining gaseous balance, helping reduce heat and prevent drying up of moisture, helping prevent soil erosion, helping maintain soil fertility, having a cooling effect on the atmosphere leading to rainfall, and providing a habitat and home for animals – are all ways plants can help the environment and ecosystems around the world
All Land Based Trees, Seaweed & Plant Life
All of the oxygen in our air that makes it breathable comes from two main sources – phytoplankton in the ocean (produces 50% of oxygen), and land based trees, seaweed and plant life (produces the other 50% of oxygen).
This oxygen is produced via the photosynthesis process.
Deforestation and the clearing and conversion of land are threats to the amount of land based plant life we have.
Rainforest Plant Life
Rainforests have many critical benefits and functions such as:
- Providing biodiversity – having between 50 and 90 percent of the world’s species
- Providing medicines – a quarter of all modern medicines came originally from rainforests
- Providing food diversity
- Helping to regulate climate – Tropical forests regulate global and regional climate-systems by acting as heat and water pumps
- Helping to prevent flooding, soil loss and siltation
What we do know is that although Earth has more trees on it than 35 years ago, rainforest deforestation is one of the asterisks to that stat, as rainforests are still being depleted (more so than other types of tree cover).
It’s also important to consider forest density and not just total forest area cover in deforestation rates.
Plants For Food & Agriculture
Plants used for food and agriculture, like fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses and so on, are extremely important for not only humans to eat, but also animals and livestock to eat.
Some of the most widely produced and valuable plant based crops to our economies and well being in the world are:
Fruit (bananas, apples etc.)
Plankton (phytoplankton and zooplankton)
Plankton includes both plants and animals (whoi.edu)
Some phytoplankton are bacteria, some are protists, and most are single-celled plants (earthobservatory.nasa.gov) … Phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, are similar to terrestrial plants in that they contain chlorophyll and require sunlight in order to live and grow (oceanservice.noaa.gov)
So, plankton could be classified as a plant or an animal.
Plankton absorb energy from the Sun and nutrients from the water
Plankton might be threatened in the long term if the world’s oceans keep warming. This could limit the amount of breathable air we have available in the future.
Fungi are more closely related to animals than plants.
Other Important Ways Humans Use Plant Life
Clothing & textiles – we grow fibres such as cotton that we use for a range of textiles and clothing
Construction – wood, rubber and other plant based materials are used to build and construct items
Industry – industrial plant crops, and plant material such as wood used in construction
Medicine – hundreds of medicines are derived from plants
Chemicals – pesticides, tobacco, and poisons can be derived from plants
Gardening – plants are used in gardening and growing for shade, to modify temperatures, reduce wind, abate noise, provide privacy, and prevent soil erosion
Science – basic biological research can be done with plants
Why Plants Are So Important In Nature, & To Balance The Ecosystem
- They are near the bottom of the food chain for all animals and organisms
- They help maintain gaseous balance in the air
- They help reduce heat and prevent drying up of moisture
- They help prevent soil erosion
- They help maintain soil fertility
- They have a cooling effect on the atmosphere leading to rainfall
- They provide habitats and homes for many species of animals