Since early times, the Earth has supported a huge variety of plant and animal species, as well as provided people with natural resources (water, soil, timber) and food.
There has always been the assumption that the sheer size of these systems gave the planet a degree of resilience that would enable it to ‘self heal’ from the effects of both human misuse and natural catastrophe.
In the past, natural processes erased many of these effects, but today things are different...
Human impact on the natural environment World population and technological developments time Impact upon the natural environment/ world’s ecosystems
Interpreting the data: We can see from this graph that as population growth and technological developments continue, so does the damage caused to our natural environment Human expansion activities such as land-clearing, mining, urbanisation and energy consumption has placed enormous pressure on the planet
The environmental impacts of such expansion include: Loss of natural vegetation Reduction in the quality of air, soils and water Water scarcity Pollution Decline and complete loss of some plant and animal species Ozone depletion Global warming and climate change Coastal alteration for ports, harbours and marinas
Ecosystems An ecosystem is an open system in which the inner-relationships between living and non-living things enable a range of organisms to exist. Examples include a forest, fallen log Biodiversity: Is a measure of the variety of plant, animal and micro-organism species that occupy an area.
Points to note about ecosystems: They are very complex as there are many ways in which organisms interact (slight changes to an ecosystem can have significant consequences) Ecosystems have the ability to adjust to change (absorb stress, adapt or undergo self-renewal) Over time, ecosystems undergo ecological succession whereby one type of community is gradually replaced by a more diverse array of species
The World’s Biomes We know that the Earth has a variety of different landscapes (mountains, forests, deserts) You will find different landscapes in different areas due to the: Climate Rainfall Soils Topography Aspect
The largest of these landscapes are called BIOMES and extend over large masses of land Biomes differ mainly because each contains its own unique ecosystem of plant and animal communities that have adapted to its physical conditions.
The largest biomes are: Rainforests Dry forests, woodlands and shrub land Savanna woodlands and grasslands Desert landscapes Grasslands Boreal (coniferous) forests Frozen landscapes-tundra and ice caps