An ecosystem is a group of living and nonliving organisms of the environment. The components like biotic and abiotic are linked together through energy flows and nutrient cycles. The external and internal factors control the ecosystem. The benefits that we receive from the ecosystem are known as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are the various benefits given to humans by the natural environment and healthy ecosystem. They function together in a healthy relationship offering things like natural pollination of crops, weather mitigation, physical and mental well-being of humans, etc. The ecosystem services are essential to get clean drinking water, waste decomposition, and productivity and resilience of the food ecosystem.
Let us learn what the four main types of ecosystem services are.
From these four services, the supporting facilities are regarded as a basis for the other three services. Let us learn them in detail.
Habitat for Species – Habitats provide humans, plants, and animals, everything that is needed for survival, such as food, water, and shelter. Each ecosystem provides habitat with different things that are essential for the survival of the lifecycle of species. During the movement, migratory species like birds, mammals, fish, and insects depend on different ecosystems.
Genetic Diversity Maintenance – The different types of genes between and within the species population is known as genetic diversity. It distinguishes breeds and races from each other and provides the basis for locally adapted cultivators.
Provisioning ecosystem services describe the material or energy outputs from ecosystems. It includes food, water, and other resources.
Food – The ecosystem provides the conditions for growing the food. Primarily food comes from managed agro-ecosystem but freshwater and marine or forest ecosystems are also capable of producing food for human consumption. Often wild foods from forests are underestimated.
Raw Materials – ecosystem provides a wide variety of materials for construction and fuel like wood, plant oils, and biofuels derived directly from cultivated and wild plant species.
Freshwater – the ecosystem's role is crucial in the global hydrological cycle as it regulates the purification and flow of water. Locally available water quantity is primarily influenced by the vegetation and forests of the area.
Medicinal Resources – Plants used as traditional medicines are provided by ecosystems and biodiversity. These plants also act as raw material for the pharmaceutical industry.
Ecosystems also act as a regulator of various systems like the quality of air and soil or generating flood and disease control.
Air Quality and Local Climate – trees provide shade, rainfall and water availability, are influenced by forest both locally and regionally. Various other plants also play a vital role in regulating air quality by reducing pollutants from the environment.
Storage and Carbon Sequestration – By storing and seizing greenhouse gases, the ecosystem regulates the global climate. With the growth of trees and plants, they remove carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is effectively seized in their tissues. In this way the forest ecosystem acts as a carbon store.
Extreme Events Moderation – natural weather hazards include floods, storms, tsunamis, landslides, and avalanches. Living organisms and ecosystems creates a barrier against natural disasters and prevents possible damage. For instance, wetlands are capable of soaking flood water, while trees can stabilize slopes. The coastline is protected from damage by mangroves and coral reefs.
Treatment of Wastewater – Ecosystems like wetlands filter wastes of animals and humans as they act as a natural buffer to the surrounding environment. Most of the waste is broken down by the biological activity of microorganisms in the soil. It eliminates pathogens, and the level of pollution and nutrients is reduced.
Prevention of Erosion and Soil Fertility Maintenance – in the process of desertification and land degradation, soil erosion is a significant factor. The fertility of the soil is necessary for the growth of plants and agriculture
Pollination – Insects and wind pollinate trees and plants. For the development of vegetables, fruits, and seeds, it is essential to fertilize. In the ecosystem, pollination by animals is mainly provided by insects and some bats and birds.
Biological Control – the ecosystem is vital for controlling pests and vector-borne diseases that attack plants, animals, and people. With the help of activities like predators and parasites, the ecosystem regulates diseases and pests.
Physical and Mental Health and Recreation – activities like walking, playing sports, and physical exercise in a green environment are not only pleasant but also relaxing. The role of greenery is being recognized in maintaining the physical and mental well-being of humans.
Tourism – tourism of various kinds is mostly based on ecosystems and biodiversity. It is a considerable economic benefit and a source of income from many countries.
1. What are the Cultural Ecosystem Services?
Ans: Cultural services in the ecosystem include recreational experiences for enjoyment and a sense of healthy social bonding. These include activities like outdoor sports, ecotourism, and recreation. Science and education like scientific discoveries, the use of natural systems for school projects, etc. Historical and spiritual like religious nature, inherent or heritage value, etc. A culture like films, paintings, national symbols, etc. will constitute cultural ecosystem services. Such services foster a sense of bonding among people, encourage social cohesion, and play an important part in maintaining human health as well as his well-being.
2. What are Forest Ecosystem Services?
Ans: The forest ecosystem services provide critical and diverse functions and values to human society. It supports conservation and biodiversity maintenance as prime habitat for many types of species. Forests stores carbon and seizes growth from the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change mitigation and the carbon cycle. Forest ecosystem produces and conserves soil, stabilizes streamflow, and water runoff. It also reduces the risk of natural disasters like droughts, floods, and landslides.