A healthy ecosystem is one that is balanced and resilient to stresses. It has intact components, does not exhibit abnormal growth in its native species, and is not subject to the concentration of persistent contaminants or drastic changes to its landscape. A healthy ecosystem is also resilient to human activities. To learn more about how to build a healthy ecosystem, follow the links below.
In order to keep ecosystems in balance and avoid climate change, biodiversity needs to be protected. In a biodiverse ecosystem, all the pieces of a complex system work well together. Without biodiversity, the ecosystem will not function efficiently and will suffer consequences such as disease outbreaks. The destruction of forest ecosystems is responsible for 11 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to storing carbon, forests and wetlands also provide buffers against extreme weather conditions.
The global diversity of species is astonishing. There are an estimated 1.7 million species, but there may be eight to nine times as many. In the tropics, where the highest biodiversity occurs, as many as 100 million species are thought to exist. Approximately seventy percent of those species are arthropods.
Balanced plant and animal populations
The diversity of plant and animal populations is vital for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Inbreeding, which results in a reduction in genetic diversity, causes some species to go extinct. Different species provide different services for each other, and a balanced ecosystem helps all species to coexist.
Plants and animals need a certain temperature, sunlight, and soil rich in nutrients to grow. They need insects to pollinate plants and provide pollen, and animals eat the plants and return the nutrients to the soil. If too many animals were hungry, they would eat all the plants, so a healthy ecosystem should have a balance of plant and animal populations.
Native habitats contribute to a healthy ecosystem by providing a range of essential services. Invasive species disrupt ecosystem processes and can displace native species. This can result in a reduction of biodiversity and the disruption of the local food chain. As a result, native ecosystems need protection from non-native species.
Native plants are natural to their area and depend on native insects and other organisms for their survival. Native plants also produce essential foods for local wildlife. By restoring native plant habitat, people can preserve plant and animal health and diversity.
Integrity of a healthy ecosystem is a concept introduced by environmentalist Aldo Leopold. The concept states that things should preserve the biotic community and that anything that would disrupt this would be wrong. The concept has since been incorporated into various legal documents and policies, including Section 101(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
Ecological Integrity Assessments (EIAs) are multimetric tools for measuring ecosystem integrity. They evaluate the condition of vegetation, soil, hydrology, and other aspects of ecosystem health. The results of these assessments can help set conservation priorities, identify restoration strategies, and monitor the effectiveness of conservation actions.
Impacts of human activities
Human activities have long had an impact on the functioning and balance of ecosystems. While these changes have been occurring since human beings first came to existence, the largest and most devastating changes have taken place in the last century. Overpopulation, pollution, agriculture, and fishing are just a few examples of how human activities are causing damage to ecosystems. Fortunately, we have a way to stop the destruction of ecosystems through conservation efforts, such as the protection of endangered species and reducing waste.
The impact of human activities on ecosystems is widespread, and the consequences of these activities vary across the globe. We need to understand the impacts of our activities so that we can develop more effective strategies for ensuring a healthy environment. By analyzing how humans are altering ecosystems, we can adjust our policies to improve the balance between economic development and the ecological environment. In China, for example, climate change is putting pressure on semi-arid regions, where human activities have already created a conflict between ecological processes and human needs. As a result, estimating the impact of human activities on ecosystem services is a key part of the formulation of ecological policies and regional environmental mitigation plans.