Evaluate the Importance of Ecosystem Management and Protection

Topics: Biodiversity, Ecology, Ecosystem Pages: 6 (2178 words) Published: October 10, 2012
Evaluate the importance of ecosystem management and protection Every living thing on Earth belongs to an ecosystem. An ecosystem can be as small as a puddle or as large as an ocean. No matter its size, every ecosystem is vital to life on Earth, and requires human respect, support, management and protection. The term "ecosystem" refers to a community of plants and animals that share a common space and common resources, and are all dependent on one another for survival. Ecosystems are characterised by the complex interactions between these abiotic and biotic environments which involves a number of major systems such as the biosphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. Ecosystems are delicately balanced. If one component fails to thrive, the others become weakened, and may fail as well. If one ecosystem fails, neighboring ecosystems become threatened as well. Ecosystems are under constant and increasing threat of disruption from natural forces, invasive species and human development. Although ecosystems are dynamic, they are also fragile. Natural forces such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can destroy ecosystems. Depending on the severity, ecosystems may take a long time to recover, such as the slow rate of recovery from volcanic eruption. However natural disturbances do not occur often, or are on a regular basis, such as the El Nino or tornado. Human disturbances to the ecosystem however, occur on a regular basis. For example, the logging of the Amazonian trees at the rate of one football field per second. The constant degrading to the environment means there is no time for the ecosystem to resist the change hence resulting in a simplified, modified and eventual disclimax ecosystem Human have modified natural ecosystems in many ways intentionally and unintentionally but the distinction is not always clear. An example of an intentional modification to ecosystems would be construction of a dam on a river. The unintentional changes that could result from this might be the extinction of some species that needed shallow water to survive. There are other ways that humans have changed the ecosystems such as destroying, degrading and simplifying ecosystems. Agricultural land use often requires the wholesale clearing of land to grow single crops or graze animals. This monoculture system simplifies the complex interrelationships existing in natural ecosystems and is maintained through pesticides and fertilisers. Urban land creates greatly modified ecosystems. The vast quantities of fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides are required to sustain the yields of the crops. The runoff pollutes streams, lakes and oceans and causes changes to their ecosystems. Human-induced changes in one ecosystem usually have cascading and unpredictable effects on other inter-related ecosystems through their nutrient cycles. Human-induced modifications to nutrients cycles are numerous and vary in scale from local to global. The clearing and removal of timber from a rainforest disrupts the nutrient cycle in these low-fertility ecosystems. The apparent richness of the rainforest ecosystem is a result of the recycling of nutrients stored in the trees and leaves. The soils are typically shallow and leached because of heavy rainfall. If the timber is removed, the nutrients are not recycled and the soil is not replenished. In addition, once the protection offered by the trees and their root systems is removed, rapid erosion occurs, removing the shallow topsoil and making regeneration of the rainforest a long, slow process that may take centuries, if it is allowed to happen. Ecosystems have various key features that determine the relationship between their biophysical components and that include interdependence, diversity, resilience, adaptability, unpredictability and limits set by abiotic and biotic factors. Human simplify ecosystems and attempt to control them for their own purposes. There are many complex interrelationships between...
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