Recent growth in scientific knowledge has helped humanity comprehend the complex relationships in ecosystems and the devastating effects of human interference. As a result we have become increasingly aware of the need to protect and manage the ecosystems that we do have remaining for their utility, genetic, intrinsic and heritage values and also for the need to allow natural change and thus evolution to take place. Natural ecosystems have provided much that has been of benefit to humanity and with careful protection it can last for many more generations. Management strategies involving sustainable development, total preservation and the educating of the populace are becoming progressively more important in today's society and for the protection of ecosystems. Ecosystems such as the Amazon basin with its rich biodiversity including swamps, mangroves, forests and savannah and coral reefs with their large biodiversity of fish species are under threat from development and are shrinking rapidly. Preservation of ecosystems is important as an insurance to keep the Earth suitable for human occupancy and is more valuable as a long term investment.
The utility value of an ecosystem is a particularly important factor regarding the importance of management and protection. Ecosystems prevent accumulation of waste, they help clean water and soil of pollutants, recycle vital chemical elements and conserve soil and water resources. Loss of biodiversity caused by humans may threaten the capacity of ecosystems to capture energy through photosynthesis, cycle nutrients and resist or adapt to the step functional change. They parts of the ecosystem are used by humans as medicines, pigments, fibres, poisons, chemicals, perfumes and food. Over 25% of prescriptions in the USA contain drugs made form organisms and more that 40% of medicines contain a natural substance as an active ingredient and are worth over $US 40 Billion each year. In 80% of the world, the population still relies on traditional medicine as the main source of health care. Many new medicinal cures may be found in wild natural ecosystems such as the may-apple plant found in North America which can be used to treat testicular cancer and as technology advances, many plants and animals may be of use to us later. Other examples include the sea anemone which has recently been found to be an anti-coagulant and the gorgonian coral which is a prostaglandin and salmon and herring sperm which is a protamine, both for cardiovascular therapy.
Natural ecosystems are biochemical storehouses and will be of increasing importance as sources of complex molecules for food, manufactured goods, pesticides and waste disposal. Natural ecosystems help in catchment protection as they regulate water flow and contribute to maintaining water quality. Natural vegetation also inhibits erosion, sedimentation, pollution and helps regulate floods. Leaving natural vegetation undisturbed would save governments millions of dollars in flood regulation and in rebuilding river banks. Ecosystems are in equilibrium and have their own way of maintaining stability, but humanity has disturbed this stability and continuously changed the ecosystem, making it almost impossible in most cases for the ecosystem to reach a new level of stability. With such instability it is very dangerous as many conditions may change and detrimentally affect mankind. Rainforests, for example, exert a considerable influence on climate and large areas such as the Amazon have moisture and energy budgets that influence global weather circulation patterns. Thus it is very important to ensure that we protect the ecosystems and correctly manage them.
Genetic diversity is another key factor to be taken into consideration for the management and protection of ecosystems. As ecosystems become more simplified due to lack of biodiversity, they become more prone to collapse and vulnerable to catastrophe, thus it is crucial to maintain genetic diversity...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document