The survival of human and animal life cycles greatly depends on the existence of the natural ecosystems. An ecosystem consists of plants, animals and humans interacting together with their immediate physical environment in a given habitat. Natural ecosystems provide important services that support human life. Hence, human based activities should be monitored with the aim of minimizing or eradicating the degradation of the natural environment. In purpose, the following essay discusses the definition and concepts of ecological services. It also highlights several important ecological services, and a few others of a kind that are in danger due to human activities.
Definition and Concept of Ecological Services
The term ecological services defines the process by which the natural environment provides fundamental resources that support and boost life. These resources provided by the environment are pillars to the survival of living organisms. The resources include: water, air, soil, timber, rocks, energy and many other non-countable resources. (Hester, 2010).
The ecological services are not fabricated hence cannot be duplicated. Below are a few other services provided by ecosystems:
- carry out pollination;
- seed dispersal;
- purification of air and water;
- balancing of climate stability;
- maintaining of biodiversity;
- decomposition of waste.
Therefore, it is evident that ecological services are fundamental. Currently human activities are threatening to destroy the physical environment. Measures should be put to ensure that we get adequate resources while conserving the environment.
Ecological Services of Rivers
Rivers are one of the most important ecological services that benefit all living organisms. Rivers are a major source of water that is widely used in households, industries and agriculture (Hester, 2010). Due to this factor, the natural fresh water streams are essential ecological service providers. There are two main services that which rivers provide: water purification and the provision of habitat for wildlife.
Firstly, the purification of water is the process by which water is made clean and safe for consumption. Water makes up an average of 75% of our body mass, hence living organisms depend on this liquid for survival. Rivers have several mechanisms of cleaning water naturally. However, human activities have interfered with this process and led to pollution of water. Its purification is an important ecological service because it provides water for consumption. This purified compound of hydrogen and oxygen is used in households for the purposes of drinking, cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. In addiction, made pure water is essential in providing important natural nutrients and minerals that help fight diseases.
Moreover, water purification opens channels for food production. Agriculture depends on the provision of clean water. Farming thrives through irrigation, therefore, increasing food supplies.
Secondly, rivers provide a natural habitat of wildlife (Hester, 2010). These water bodies are home to millions of aquatic wildlife that includes different species of animals and plants. The natural features found in rivers provide good environmental for the survival of these species. The development and conservation of this natural habitat are important because aquatic life has economic benefits achieved through tourism. Marine life tourism provides a good source of income (Hester, 2010). Water life is also a good source of food. There is a variety of species that are consumed e.g. fish, crabs and lobsters due to their highly nutritious value.
Endangered Ecological Services
With an increased rate in urbanization and industrialization, human based activities are the main threat of the ecosystems. The demand for ecological services is also high due to the growth in world population hence putting pressure on the natural ecosystems. Some of the analyzed services affected by human activities include forests and purified air.
Air is vital in the survival of living organisms. Without air, the existence of life would be cut off completely. However, adverse human based activities are threatening this precious service through its pollution. This process has negative effects on all living beings. The scale of air pollution can result to catastrophic impacts. Such influences include health hazards and break out of diseases, poor food production due to low nutrient levels and environmental effects on climate e.g. acidic rain and weakening of the ozone layer.
Forests have a wide range of uses and are a very important part of the natural environment. People benefit greatly from the services of forests. Nevertheless, the carried out human activities are a great threat to the survival of forests. Deforestation or cutting down of trees is the major threat to these large wooded areas. This is due to the increasing demand of land for cultivation and construction. The decline of forests has dangerous consequences that could lead to negative effects on humanity. Deforestation induces desertification hence the low food production and severe hunger. It also causes soil erosion, which in turn leads to loss of minerals and nutrients thus low productivity of land. In addiction, deforestation destroys the natural wildlife habitat. Animals greatly depend on the forests for shelter and food (Losey & Vaughan, 2006).
In conclusion, it is evident that natural ecosystems provide fundamental resources for the survival of living organisms. The ecological services are unique and cannot be duplicated hence there is a need to preserve and conserve the environment. There is a variety of ecological services. Rivers are a good example of ecosystem services; for instance, purifying water and provision of a habitat for aquatic life. However, due to the high rate of human activities, the ecosystems are under threat. Unless we find a long lasting solution, we will loss essential ecological services that we take for granted.