Understanding Ecosystems

This year’s theme for world environment day is ecosystem restoration. Just what is ecosystem anyways and what’s it got to do with us? Ecosystem is where living and non-living entities co-exist. Living things comprise of plants and animals while non-living are things like rocks or temperature. There are processes in between that assist this co-existence.

Some examples of ecosystems include;

  • tundra, (treeless regions found where the climate is cold and windy, and rainfall is scant.)

    examples of ecosystem

  • desert,
  • marine,
  • freshwater,
  • terrestrial, (a type of ecosystem found only on landforms.)
  • grassland and
  • forest ecosystems.

The different ecosystems vary in sizes and may intertwine with each other. Kenya is well-endowed with different ecosystems such as montane ecosystem e.g. Mt. Kenya and Aberdares Ranges, marine ecosystem in the Indian Ocean coastal region, grassland ecosystem e.g. Yatta plains. Ecosystems are delicate because if one part of it is disturbed, an imbalance is created and a ripple effect is felt in the surrounding entities.

VALUE OF ECOSYSTEMS

We are surrounded by ecosystems and we interact with them more than we think. Let us highlight a couple of the reasons why ecosystems are our green gold:

  1. Habitat for flora and fauna

Ecosystems host a diverse range of biological things; living and non-living. The biodiversity distribution is unique that some are only found in certain parts of the world e.g. polar bears in the North and South poles and pandas in Asia. The beauty of different scenery cannot be ignored; high mountains, clear coral reefs, dazzling northern lights, green rainforests, sandy deserts and deep caves. These all generate a sense of wonder and their aesthetic value cannot be overstated.

  1. Source for food and natural resources

The climates and types of soil within ecosystems allow for different types of crops, vegetation and fruits to grow for human consumption. For instance, coffee in Kenyan highlands and pineapples in the heat of Thika. Just imagine how much worse your Monday mornings would be without morning coffee? More than just food, we get other resources from nature to make other things, such as, minerals, fossil fuels, timber to build and better human civilization.

  1. Cycle of life

What keeps the entities inside the ecosystems are the processes which they go through. For instance, production, reproduction, carbon and nutrient cycling, energy flow, respiration, decomposition among others. Their importance is crucial to any living organism’s existence. For instance, human beings breathe out carbon dioxide and plants use that through photosynthesis to make food for us and animals. As they do so, they give off oxygen which we breathe in. There is a give and take synergy among things existing in ecosystems. When vegetation is cleared to make room for civilization, we are eliminating what gives us air and improves our air quality.

We cannot do without other factors in the ecosystems we live in. We ought to better appreciate that ecosystems can be depleted but they can also be saved. Join the movement in learning more about our ecosystems and taking care of them. It starts with you and I.

Thank you for reading!

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