Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are the numerous and diverse benefits that people openly benefit from the natural surroundings and also from properly-functioning ecosystems. Such ecosystems contain, by way of instance, agroecosystems, forest ecosystems, grassland ecosystems and aquatic ecosystems. These ecosystems working properly supplies such matters such as agricultural produce, lumber, and aquatic organisms including fishes and fishes. Together, these advantages have become called'ecosystem services', and are frequently essential to the provisioning of fresh drinking water, the decomposition of wastes, as well as also the natural pollination of plants and other crops. Supporting services comprise services like nutrient cycling, primary production, soil formation, habitat supply and pollination.

Habitat Conservation

Habitat conservation for wild species is among the most crucial problems facing the environment today - both in the sea and on land. As human populations increase, land usage grows, and wild species have smaller distances to call house. Over fifty percent of all Earth's terrestrial surface was changed because of human activity, leading to extreme deforestation, erosion and loss of topsoil, biodiversity loss, and even extinction. Species can't survive out their normal habitat with no human intervention, like the habitats within a zoo or aquarium, such as. Maintaining habitats is vital to maintaining biodiversity. Migratory species are especially vulnerable to habitat destruction since they have a tendency to occupy more than a natural habitat. Changing a natural habitat slightly may bring about a domino effect that hurts the whole ecosystem.

Supporting services

While scientists and environmentalists have discussed ecosystem solutions implicitly for a long time, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) from the early 2000s popularized this idea. Additionally, ecosystem services are grouped into four broad classes:
Supporting services
Provisioning

like the creation of water and food

Supporting services
Regulating

like the control of disease and climate

Supporting services
Encouraging

including nutrient cycles and oxygen generation

Supporting services
Ethnic

such as recreational and spiritual advantages

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Rebuilding After Disaster Strikes

By Liz Clift The Midwest has been pummeled by storms—and if you’re looking at mainstream online news outlets, you might not even notice amidst other national and international stories. However, Midwestern flooding has implications not only for crops (such as corn, soy, and pigs), which is the focus of the limited news coverage, but also […]

By Liz Clift The Midwest has been pummeled by storms—and if you’re looking at mainstream online news outlets, you might not even notice amidst other national and international stories. However, Midwestern flooding has implications not only for crops (such as corn, soy, and pigs), which is the focus of the limited news coverage, but also […]

By Liz Clift

The Midwest has been pummeled by storms—and if you’re looking at mainstream online news outlets, you might not even notice amidst other national and international stories. However, Midwestern flooding has implications not only for crops (such as corn, soy, and pigs), which is the focus of the limited news coverage, but also ecology and the environment.

Some scientists suggest that these floods are likely linked to climate change. David Easterling, Chief of the Scientific Services division at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, has pointed out that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water and that much of the rain that’s fallen on the Midwest in recent weeks originated over the Gulf of Mexico. Assuming that this unprecedented rainfall is linked to climate change, we should expect to see this trend continue in the future, perhaps returning parts of the Midwest to the marshier lands that existed prior to the widespread use of tilling.

We know that critical infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, that some people will be permanently displaced, and that clean-up will cost some states billions of dollars. In addition, we can anticipate prices for corn and soybeans will skyrocket due to lower yields. Higher prices for corn and soy will impact not only the food industry, but also the gas (ethanol) industry, some plastics production, and more.

Missouri Flood Image. Captured by Mary Allee

However, the near-term human consequences will have devastating impacts on the people who live in the Midwest (some of whom have lost their homes, livelihoods, or both—or may by the end of this growing season) as well as elsewhere. This most recent set of flooding isn’t even the only flooding parts of the Midwest have experienced this year.

Once the current set of floodwaters recede, ecological consequences will become more apparent. We can probably expect to find that rivers or streams have shifted course (as sometimes happens during large flood events); increased eutrophication in rivers, streams, and the Gulf; rich farmlands scraped bare by rushing floodwaters (with those soils either deposited on other farmlands or at the deltas of the region’s streams and rivers); chemical contamination; cars and buildings in places where they shouldn’t be; soil compaction; and reductions in macroinvertebrates (likely with slow recolonization in areas that have previously experienced flooding this year).

We’ve seen similar floods before in this part of the Midwest, including the Great Flood of 1993—and there may be lessons to learn from that flood as recovery efforts begin with the current flooding, as well as models from around the country. Rebuilding may include efforts to:

  • Stabilize streams and streambanks through a variety of traditional and green engineering methods, as Colorado did after the 2013 floods;
  • Adjust rebuilding homes, businesses, and infrastructure to account for rivers and streams that have changed course (and any new mapping of floodplains by FEMA);
  • Renewed efforts to reconnect floodplains to rivers to reduce the load of water on relatively narrow channels;
  • Conversion of farmland into temporary or permanent prairie systems through Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs or similar land conversion and protection programs;
  • Restoration of prairie and agricultural lands, which may include removing debris; recontouring the land; soil amendments; revegetation; rebuilding key structures that were damaged or destroyed; and more;
  • Water quality monitoring;
  • Rebuilt/restructured levees; and
  • Other measures with the goal of creating a more stable relationship between people and floodwaters.

Within recovery efforts, ecological design should play a central role. Certainly, ecological design can’t prevent flooding from occurring, but ecological design may encourage the development of more resilient landscapes, which allow communities to remain more resilient as well—not only in the face of flooding, but in the case of drought, wildland fires, and other natural disasters.

In addition, engaging ecologists from the beginning can help streamline recovery efforts. Ecologists and ecological designers can work with project teams to design projects that are more likely to experience long-term restoration success while adding aesthetic and even economic value to impacted communities and sites. Ecologists are skilled at examining the plethora of factors that contribute to the ecological function and health of the site, and have even developed a variety of rapid assessment protocols that allow them to use a variety of objective and subjective tools to assess ecological health. This data can then be used to develop restoration and management strategies.

Streamlining restoration efforts ultimately saves the client—including municipalities—money. As cities, towns, and businesses begin to consider their options for rebuilding, may we humbly suggest you include ecologists and ecological designers on your team?

Great Ecology has experience helping towns and municipalities recover from impacts to widespread flooding, including over varied topographical terrain. We offer solutions that are designed to decrease the impacts of future flood events.

Featured image on this blog is from NOAA.


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