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Ecosystem Services at Risk

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Ecosystem services are the benefits that natural environments supply to human beings. Due to the immense diversity of ecosystems and objectives for which their services are being assessed, there are no standard methodologies for this type of evaluation. The high biodiversity and geodiversity of the coastal zone allow a wide range of services. However, deleterious impacts to the environment threaten the delivery of these services and, consequently, the human well-being they lead to. The coastal zone, with its multiple users and impacts, is a case in which an ecosystem-based approach would bring many benefits within the scope of an integrated coastal management strategy. By considering the ecosystem services supplied by the coastal zone, it is possible to make well-informed decisions.

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For successful dune protection to occur, the natural functioning of the dune must be sustained, while allowing humans to use the coastal dune ecosystem in a sustainable manner. As dune restoration is extremely costly many bodies of power have used strategies that protect the current dunes, and keep them in the best possible condition. One strategy imposed is land-use controls. Through state and local governments there is the ability to have stricter planning laws on human activities on dunes. Local governments have the power to accept or decline any development applications on the dunes. This would help the dune system function in a more natural state. Dune stabilisation is also an important feature to management and involves securing exposed sand and stopping it from blowing away. One way of doing this is through reshaping the dunes. Reshaping transpires through the use of earthmoving equipment that makes the dunes more aerodynamic shaped. Reshaping is able to create the needed form of the dune for vegetation and organisms to become established on the dunes. Dune reconstruction usually occurs on dunes that lack in sand. As it is expensive to import sand, chemicals and other inorganic fertilisers are used. If dune reconstruction is applied with other efficient management methods like revegetation, then it is extremely positive for the dune, as seen in Texas, USA where sand dunes using this method have grown by 2 or 3 metres in only 2 years. The most successful method for dune stabilisation is revegetation. Revegetation is proven to be the least expensive, most durable and is able to self-maintain. The main role of dune plants is to trap and hold wind-borne sand. The leaves of vegetation also play a part, as they disturb the movement of sand by saltation and surface creep. Revegetation usually takes on the form of developing a plant succession on the dunes. If the dune is somewhat degraded then pioneer dune grasses, like sand spinifex, are brought in to stabilise the dune, then introduced are the secondary vegetation like she oaks and finally tertiary species like coastal trees. As coastal dunes are extremely harsh and specialised ecosystems it is preferred that the seedlings of the revegetation come from neighbouring areas, as the vegetation has experienced the conditions. Revegetation does not come cheap and is particularly labour-intensive. Through the actions of volunteers like Dune Care, dune revegetation is able to occur more often and with fewer expenses. Both coral reefs and coastal dunes are extreme environments in their own ways. They face common problems in terms of the biophysical interactions and human stresses, but also contrasting difficulties with one being more vulnerable than the other. Much importance must be placed on preserving both ecosystems as they offer us many resources. Efficient management approaches must also be used to sustain them for future generations. These environments offer humans an insight into the power and ferocity that is instilled in Mother Nature. The ecosystems have adapted to the many conditions they have faced, and will continue as long as we can help preserve them.

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First, residential zoning has been largely stable across time (Mearns). Moreover, zoning tends to be “sticky”. A comparison of bylaws over time for a sample of jurisdictions reveals that the fundamentals of zoning bylaws – such as the establishment of zoning districts or the uses allowed in those districts – are altered very rarely, perhaps only once every 20 to 30 years (Schuetz, 2007). Future direction of examining the effectiveness of zoning and its spillover effect will take into account of the dynamics between land use land cover change and zoning regulations accordingly. Despite all the limitations, this research presented in the dissertation provides some insights from modelling production of ecosystem services, tradeoff analysis to valuation of ecosystem services through hedonic housing price approach. This research integrates biological process, such as hydrological modelling, and scenarios analysis into empirical analysis. Additionally, the three manuscripts provide a starting point for government officials to enhance ecosystem services through land use planning, management, nutrient reduction programs. Further research is needed on homebuyers’ perception of ecosystem services in order to improve land use management and achieve sustainable development. Since the perception of ecosystem goods and services can vary by person, better understanding the people’s awareness may provide more insights on implicit marginal price and potential benefits. We would also like to account for uncertainty in quantifying ecosystem services in a landscape in future work, so that policymakers can make more effective policies and they can adapt management approaches in the face of uncertainty. Most previous research has ignored the uncertainty associated with modeling of production of ecosystem services and future land use scenarios with the exception of a handful of studies that have valued ecosystem services with uncertainty (Nadeau et al, 2007). However, if the uncertainty in the biophysical production of ecosystem services is substantial, it may influence the validity of uncertainty analysis in the valuation of ecosystem services.

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In sum, changes in ecosystem services influence all components of human well-being, including the basic material needs for a good life, health, good social relations, security, and freedom of choice and action (CF3). Humans are fully dependent on Earth’s ecosystems and the services that they provide, such as food, clean water, disease regulation, climate regulation, spiritual fulfillment, and aesthetic enjoyment. The relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being is mediated by access to manufactured, human, and social capital. Human well-being depends on ecosystem services but also on the supply and quality of social capital, technology, and institutions. These factors mediate the relationship between ecosystem services and human well-being in ways that remain contested and incompletely understood.

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Lubowski, R. N., A. J. Plantinga, and R. N. Stavins. 2008. “What Drives Land-use Change in the United States? A National Analysis of Landowner Decisions.” Land Economics 84 (4): 529–550.

Maurer, E. P., H. G. Hidalgo, T. Das, M. D. Dettinger, and D. R. Cayan. 2010. “The Utility of Daily Large-scale Climate Data in the Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Daily Streamflow in California.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 14 (6): 1125–1138.

Meals, D. W., S. A. Dressing, and T. E. Davenport. 2010. “Lag Time in Water Quality Response to Best Management Practices: A Review.” Journal of Environmental Quality 39 (1): 85–96.

Mearns, L.O., R. Arritt, G. Boer, D. Caya, P. Duffy, F. Giorgi, WJ Gutowski, et al. 2005. “NARCCAP, North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program.” In 16th Conference on Climate Variability and Change.

Nadeau, T. L., and M. C. Rains. 2007. “Hydrological Connectivity Between Headwater Streams and Downstream Waters: How Science Can Inform Policy1.” JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association 43 (1): 118–133.

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Ecosystem Services at Risk
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