The Importance of Ecosystem Management and Protection

For any High School student studying Geography!

We need to ensure the management and protection of ecosystems. The ecosphere holds all ecosystems on earth. It is the collection of living and dead organisms interacting with one another and their environment. This interaction is the key to an ecosystem surviving. Without the decomposer, for example, dead plants and animals will not be broken down leaving them to rot and contaminate animals that eat them. In this way, producers, consumers and decomposers are what allow an ecosystem to run.

Energy is passed through the food web beginning with solar energy reaching earth. The first law of thermodynamics must be remembered whilst looking at energy, that energy cannot be created or destroyed instead changes form. Plants/producers/autotrophs get their energy from this solar energy. The plants then use photosynthesis to convert energy to glucose and oxygen which is used by consumers who also eat the plants and other organisms to get their energy. Decomposers feed off decaying organic matter.

There are five main reasons that we should manage and protect the ecosystem. These include maintenance of genetic diversity, utility value, intrinsic value, heritage value and the need to allow natural change to proceed. To begin with, genetic diversity, similar to natural selection must be maintained. This process is where the evolution of an organism leads for the organism to be best adapted to the environment. Genetic diversity allows for adaptation to change and the more successful at regeneration and adaptation the less vulnerable to change. Different species of mammals, birds, bacteria and fungi all ensure genetic diversity and the survival of ecosystems. During the Industrial Revolution in Britain, a species of moth was either black or white and after the Revolution was over it was seen that only black moths had survived as they were camouflaged.

Utility value in an ecosystem refers to the usefulness of it or alternative ways to use what is in it, in other words the opportunity cost. For example, plants, animals, fungi and bacteria could be used for food, medicine and fibres in the future. A rainforest could either be cut down to use the wood within it, killing an ecosystem, or a national park could be set up. Our world revolves around money, so when deciding whether an ecosystem should be cut down or used as a national park, the amount people are willing to pay plus the cost of maintaining the park is the calculation used. This is called the existence value. If we decide that all ecosystems don’t have an existence value high enough to maintain them then we would be left with no purified water, regulated temperature, soil regeneration and nutrient recycling. We need to look after ecosystems to ensure that they create oxygen to keep us alive. The brooding frog may have chemical compounds to be used as a treatment for gastric ulcers.

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