An ecosystem is made up of several naturally occurring interdependent elements which freely interact to achieve environmental sustainability. The interaction of these components ensures that there is a perfect balance of the ecosystem which supports the lives of both animals and plants. The elements that make up an ecosystem include plants, animals and non-living elements such as water and soil. An ecosystem facilitates the complete cycle of energy from the sun as well as material such as nutrients from the soil. Every element in the ecosystem plays a significant role that can never be substituted or replaced (Chabbi & Loescher, 2017). For instance, soil which is a non-living element of the ecosystem facilitates the growth of plants as well as providing the ground for walking and all human activity. This shows that this element cannot be replaced. However, there are various services of the ecosystem which are overlooked as they seem to have no direct connection with the human environment. These components are usually the biotic factors, and a good example is the forests.
Forests can easily be overlooked as well as the benefit that they give to humans and the entire ecosystem. With the emergence of industrialization and civilization, people have forgotten the importance of the services that the forests give and embarked on deforestation to create space for industrial development and residential establishments. It surprises me that people have entirely overlooked the climatic balance that forests bring to the environment. Notably, the development of urban areas where a large percentage of people live has profoundly contributed to the overlooking of the services provided by forests. Current technologies in development have suspended the use of wood in construction which has further made people consider forests as obsolete.
Healthy forest ecosystems are primary supporters of ecological life as they influence several components that have a direct impact on the environment. Forests, to begin with, are beneficial in that they balance the content of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the environment by taking in the carbon dioxide and providing oxygen. Secondly, forests are known to enhance precipitation which is a factor that replenishes water in the environment.
Forests provide a variety of products as well as services which are essential for human health and survival. These are typically considered as natural assets and thus termed as ecosystem services (Karst et al., 2017). A greater percentage of these products are conventionally viewed as public goods which are free for the society. Besides the economic and social benefits, forests provide a habitat for wildlife and scenic landscapes that can be tourist attraction sites. Notably, assets such as forests lack a formal market value and therefore are not considered as valuable in the society (Helm & Hepburn, 2014). The crucial contribution of forests to the environment and ecosystem balance is often overlooked in public, corporate, and individual decision-making. When they are undervalued and overlooked, forests become vulnerable to human activity.
Numerous initiatives have been started all aimed at forest conservation and enlightening the society on the importance of forests. Recognizing forest ecosystems as naturally occurring assets which have ecological, social and economic value can help in ensuring that people do not make decisions that lead to forest destruction. Besides that, the Forest Service is currently looking forward to tapping on national opportunities to implement policies for payments of ecosystem services (Karst et al., 2017). The partnership of all the stakeholders who benefit from forests and collaboration in formulating ideas for forest conservation is yet another approach aimed at restoring forests.
- Chabbi, A., & Loescher, H. W. (2017). Terrestrial ecosystem research infrastructures: Challenges and opportunities. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
- Helm, D., & Hepburn, C. (2014). Nature in the Balance: The Economics of Biodiversity.
- Karst, H., Nepal, S. K., & University of Waterloo. (2017). Protected areas and ecotourism: Charting a path toward social-ecological wellbeing.