The Natural Product Repository at NCI is home to more than 230,000 substances derived from plants, animals and microbes found around the world. Scientists there are developing new methods of understanding the complex chemistry of natural compounds and conserving the samples they have. By mapping the genomes of bacteria and plants, they are gaining information they can use to synthesize new compounds with medicinal potential. Even as we rely on nature for fundamental medicines, we’re losing its diversity, and we’re losing it fast. Deforestation and climate change are driving species to extinction 1,000 times faster than you’d expect if no humans lived on Earth. Protecting the diversity of life on earth is not just important for saving the wild places and animals we love. It’s essential for saving ourselves and the health of our loved ones. Editor’s note: The article has little to do with materials management, but offers a fascinating look at the importance of nature in our lives and the vital need to protect it.