- May 28, 2008
- 300 Cawdor Rd
Justify – give reasons for, defend.
Q21 – HSC – Geography
Justify the importance of ecosystem management and protection
Biodiversity is of inestimatable value – ensures humanity’s wellbeing is kept.
Examples – protecting large tracts of wilderness, zoos, gardens, seed banks.
Reassessment, humanity’s relationship, sustainable development
Maintenance of genetic diversity – survival of the fittest
Ultity values - $$$
Intrinsic values – the inherent ecological value
Heritage – the historical and cultural value
The need to allow natural change to occur unimpeded,
The Biodiversity of life is of inestimable value. It provides the basis for the maintenance of planetary processes and humanity’s well – being. Thus, the importance of ecosystem management and protection is of paramount importance; it is important for humanity’s and the planet’s future survival and well – being.
Attempts to protect the earth’s biodiversity range from setting aside and protecting vast tracts of wilderness to the preservation of animal species in zoos, botanical gardens to the creation of seed banks, however this will not be enough to protect large numbers from extinction or prevent large areas from being degraded. What is really needed is a reassessment of humanity’s relationship with the biophysical environment and with one another. Vital to such a reassessment will be the need to adopt values, attitudes and practices that conform to the idea of sustainable development.
The reasons for managing and protecting ecosystems include:
- the maintenance of genetic diversity;
- utility value
- intrinsic value
- heritage value
- the need to allow natural change to occur unimpeded.
Maintenance of genetic diversity
Typically, ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity have a greater resillence and as a result, are able to recover from natural and human induced stress. Where biodiversity is diminished, the functioning of the ecosystem is placed at risk.
The huge number of species on this planet all represent one huge genetic database of successful survival strategies that have been developed and perfected over several billion years. Each species has its own gene pool, where an almost infinite number of characterisitics can be selected. Such diversity allows a species to adapt to changes within its environment. The more successful a species is at adaption, the less vulnerable it it.
Communities of plants and animals tend to survive periods of stress because within the ecosystem, there are organisms not adversely affected by the change. the organisms that are most likely to survive are the ones that have certain characteristics that allow them to survive. If such traits are genetic, the survivors will pass them onto subsequent generations. It is understood, that over time, a species will adapt and change according to the demands of the surrounding environment. This concept is summarised in the Darwinian sense as ‘survival of the fittest’. By this, fittest means having the traits to survive, not necessarily being the healthiest.
The loss of genetic diversity that is caused by human intervention has to be considered as an opportunity cost of an ever expanding technosphere.
The diversity of life on earth is the result of evolutionary change. the pool of living diversity is dynamic; it increases when a new genetic variation is introduced and is decreased when a genetic variation is lost (e.g. loss of species or ecosystem)
Economists consider all living and non living components of the earth’s ecosphere as having an existing or potential utility value. By maintaining and protecting ecosystem, we are maximising our race’s ability to adapt to change. the enormous diversity of life represents a huge date base of genetic material can be tapped into as human needs change. the loss of a species, whether it be animal, plant, fungus, bacterium or virus denies us a of potential future source of food, medicine, chemicals, fibres and other such materials.
Humanity’s immeadiate survival depends upon a few species, mainly a few grains such as wheat, rice, sorghum, maize and millet and few tubers such as potato, sweet potato, taro, cassava and marrioc. Despite genetic engineering, plant breeders still rely upon selective breeding to develop varieties of these (and other) crop plants that are able to withstand climate change, salinity, disease and insect attack. Such crops are located in their native environments which are at risk In the developing world, for example, wheat comes from Afghanistan, potatoes from Peru, Sorghum and millet from Ethopia and the Sudan. Due to the excessive exhaustion of the many genetic variations (strains used), plant breeders still need to turn back to their genetic source replenish their genetic material, in doing so, they are adding more genetic variations to a particular strain of crop, making it more resilient to environmental changes. Management is very important because exploiting the utility value of ecosystems, if taken to the extreme, will ultimately destroy the environment. Proper management techniques are needed to minimise the risk of environmental degradation
The inherent ecological values, the belief that every ecosystem to exist regardless of its utility value, recognition has been given that the biophysical environment provides for the aesthictic, inspirational, motivational, and needs of people. By interacting with elements of the biophysical environment, humanity is reminded that they are part of an interdependent world; every component Is reliant upon one another for continued survival. A strong example to highlight this principle would be indigenous people scattered throughout the world. Indigenous people gain their spiritual strength from interacting with the biophysical environment. A specific example of this are the Australian Aboriginines. Traditional Aboriginal people believe they share a symbiotic relationship with the biophysical, which is to say, they have a ecocentric perspective. This concept is reinforced through their cultural and spiritual beliefs, called the Dreamtime. The Dreamtime is a framework used to govern the ways they live; Aboriginal people have been practising sustainable ecological management for tens of thousands of years. An example is firestick farming, Aboriginals acknowledge through their actions, behaviour and beliefs that they are responsible for the continued existence of their world.
Management and the intrinsic value of ecosystems can lead to potential conflicts amongst users of the ecosystem as there are two opposing views. How does one manage and ecosystem and maintain its intrinsic value. The two opposing views aforementioned is the urban society who have the resources to maintain and exploit resources their own benefit and the other which is the more indigenous/subsistence society that has been maintaining the ecosystem for a long time, which in the case of the Australian Aboriginines, has been tens of thousands of years and have been successful in maintaining the ecosystem. The developed society on the other hand has an notorious history of destruction.
Typically is defined as being ecosystems or features that are physical or biological that pertain to have a global, artistically visual and scientific value. The text book that I have been learning from contains this defintiton; the given definition only gives the field term which in itself does not really explain the meaning clearly. The field term conceptualises the heritage value of ecosystem mainly in terms of material and morphological artefacts. In the UNESCO World Heritage context, the set of cultural landscapes written on the World Heritage list clearly shows a preference for cultural landscapes characterised by a unique morphological cultural imprint on the natural landscape.
In Australia, the concept of ‘natural heritage’ can be out to large areas of pristine wilderness as well as those places that are in close proximity to human settlements, Education has played a crucial role in informing the public of the need to protect and manage ecosystems. The result has been that as support has grown, so has the list of ‘Heritage sites’. It is considered that preserving important elements of our natural heritage is a responsibily all humanity should embrace.
The need to allow natural change to occur unimpeded
As established previously, the diversity on the planet is the result of ongoing evolutionary change. it has been argued by professionals that all humans have a moral responsibility to ensure that natural change continues unimpeded. To ensure that this does occur, large areas of representative ecosystems will need to be protected. To protect them, policies such as those examined below much be implemented. The aforementioned policies that will need to be implemented include;
- be large enough to protect and conserve intact ecosystems and to allow natural processes to occur unimpeded.
- Have boundaries that reflect environmental not political needs
- Considering the needs of the local people. If it isn’t considered, It could be that the people who once depended on the area, now has to result to destructive methods such as poaching as they have no other way of income.
- Be well managed and effectively resourced.
- Be surrounded by ‘buffer zones’ that for the greater good, restrict human activities.
It has been said that ecosystems must be protected for a number of reasons. These reasons include the maintenance of genetic diversity, utilty value, intrinsic value, heritage value and the need to allow natural change to proceed unimpeded. Ecosystems must be managed and protected effectively because it is within humanity’s and the planet’s best interests to do so.