Your family and mine are an ecosystem. You and I are living organisms; we interact with each other in a specific place – our homes. If we do not let strangers come to our environment and disturb our peace, why are we doing it to other ecosystems? What can we do to prevent ecosystem degradation and secure a sustainable future for everyone?
Ecosystems are the basic unit to study nature.The physical environment – the biotope – contains specific characteristics such as the climate, temperature, humidity and nutrient availability. Coexisting with the biotope is the biocenosis, the set of living organisms (animals, plants and microorganisms) that interact with each other and are interdependent. This interaction between the physical and the living world is of major importance for the balance of the ecosystem.
However, how does the biotope and the biocenosis communicate with each other? The answer is energy. All living things require energy to survive but there is different ways they have access to it - for example, plants require energy from the sun and animals get energy by eating plants or other animals. For most ecosystems, the flow of energy is represented as a food web or a food chain so it makes sense to assume that at the bottom of the chain are the plants that produce energy from the sun. In ecosystems, plants and algae play a very important role as producers. They use photosynthesis to transform light into energy. When an animal eats a plant, it is using the plant’s energy to produce its own. Not only is the animal dependent on the plant but also it is of extreme importance that the next animal in the food chain can access to the energy of the previous animal. In a balanced environment, the energy produced flows through all the tropic levels, making it a sustainable and viable ecosystem.
Ecosystems provide us with incalculable benefits – a stable climate, breathable air, water supplies, food and materials. Not only they provide us with critical resources, they also are important for our physical and mental health. However, most of ecosystems are becoming negatively impacted by human activities. The Anthropocene timeline is a period of time that defines significant human impact in Earth’s atmospheric, biospheric, geologic and hydrologic systems. Within this period, we have climate change, forests cleared, rivers and lakes polluted, coasts and oceans over-fished, soils eroded and farmlands over exploited. It is of extreme importance to raise awareness for ecosystem restoration. Restoring ecosystems means protecting their biodiversity while still enjoying what each one has to offer us.
So what can WE do?
The United Nations declared the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that starts on June 5th, the World Environment Day 2021. The aim of celebrating this day is to drive awareness to prevent, stop and reverse ecosystem degradation and secure a sustainable future for everyone. You can get on board by getting informed, setting goals and help nature help itself.
Getting informed about how the world works and what you can do to help it restore is extremely important in your path to build a sustainable relationship with nature. Studying Biology will provide you answers to large-scale concerns, can offer you solutions to environmental issues and is key for the formation of a healthy biosphere where all things are sustainably interacting. Europe Tutorial Academy can help you in this quest for a more sustainable life by offering you online education on a diversity of biology-related subjects.