We depend on natural vegetation and natural resources such as Land, Soil as well as Wildlife Resources for our survival. All these form the basic components of our ecosystem. Let us know more about the natural resources, their conservation and their role in our ecosystem.
Ecology and Ecosystem: What’s the Difference?
The biotic (living) components that are closely related to as well as interact with the abiotic(non-living) components constitute an ecosystem. Ecosystems are mostly recognized on the basis of their geographical region. The biosphere is the region that is characterized by the presence of life.
The biosphere is the narrow realm of contact and interaction between the atmosphere, lithosphere as well as hydrosphere. It is a 15 km wide layer extending from the deepest ocean trench to the highest mountain peak. It is the supporter of all life forms. There are chiefly two life forms that exist in the biosphere- the plant kingdom and the animal kingdom.
Whereas ecology is the scientific study of the processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms, the interactions among organisms, and the interactions between organisms and the transformation and flux of energy and matter.
The Natural Resources
These are the materials or substances occurring in nature which can be exploited for economic gains.The most important natural resources include:
- Natural Vegetation
- Wildlife Resources
Significance of Land as a Resource
- Among the most important natural resources.
- Covers only about 30% of the earth’s surface.
- The supporter of natural vegetation, wildlife, human life, economic activities, transport and communication systems.
Utilization of Land
The land is an asset of a finite magnitude, therefore, it is important to use the available land for various purposes with careful planning to minimize its exploitation. Land resources are categorized into the following types on the basis of their use:
- Non-cultivable Land that includes Barren and wasteland as well as land put to non-agricultural uses, e.g. buildings, roads, factories, etc
- Another uncultivated land (excluding fallow land)
- Fallow land
- Cultivable Land or Net Sown Area
Gross cropped area is the area that is sown more than once in an agricultural year in addition to the net sown area.
What are Landslides?
Sliding down the slopes from mountains or hills are called a landslide. The things that come down with the sliding land mass include stones, mud, as well as debris. Landslides occurring in the steep mountainous regions are more destructive.
Effects of Landslides
Landslides result in a lot of destruction which leads to the following
- Flowing of small rivers are checked by landslides.
- Transportation is affected.
- Streams and many plants get submerged.
- Landslides can cause loss of life and damage to property.
Causes of landslide
The important causes resulting in landslides include
- The constant flowing of water and tides remove soils and create landslides in the mountainous regions and coastal areas.
- When railways, roads and canals are constructed in the steep mountainous areas, the slopes become steeper leading to landslides.
- Collection of loose soil on clay soil layer can enhance steep slope formation, leading to a landslide.
- Landslides are common in the mining areas. Excavation of earth to reach the ore deposits deep down can cause landslides.
- Deforestation and deep tilling of the slopes can result in a landslide.
Soil as a Natural Resource
Another important natural resource is soil. It is the thin layer of a grainy substance which covers the surface of the earth. The important constituents of soil include:
- Organic matter
Factors Affecting Formation of Soil
Soils are derived from parent rock material through a process of the breakup or wear and tear. Decomposed vegetal and animal remains, referred to as humus is an important constituent of soil and adds to the fertility of the soil. Besides hummus, silica, clay, and sand are the other factors affecting the formation of soil.
Soil Erosion and It’s Causes
Soil Erosion is the removal of the uppermost layer of soil by water, wind as well as human activities. The human activities that lead to soil erosion include deforestation and mining. It can also be caused as a result of overgrazing by animals. Natural calamities such as droughts or floods can also result in soil erosion.
Conservation of Soil
Soil conservation is the preventing of soil loss from erosion or reduced fertility caused as a result of over usage or acidification, salinization as well as soil contamination caused by chemicals. The various methods that can be employed for the conservation of soil include
- Terrace farming
- Contour ploughing
- Strip cropping
- Construction of dams
- Plugging gullies
- Planting trees
Water as a Natural Resource
About 97% of the earth’s water supply is in the ocean. Due to high salt content, it is unfit for human consumption as well as other activities.Out of the remaining 3 percent, 2.3 percent is locked in polar ice caps. Subsequently, balance 0.7 percent is available as freshwater of which 0.66 percent is groundwater.
Thus leaving a mere 0.03 percent available to us as freshwater in rivers, lakes, and streams. Therefore despite the earth’s surface being covered with water, a very small percentage is usable. Thus there is a need for conservation of water.
Methods for Conservation of Water
In almost all parts of Rajasthan, different methods are used to conserve water. In the historic times, the kings had built many resources for water conservation. Ponds, lakes, wells as well as step-wells are found in the different districts of Rajasthan highlighting the importance the people of this state give to water conservation.
Natural Vegetation and Different Forest Categories
Natural vegetation refers to a plant community which has grown naturally without human aid as well as has been left undisturbed by humans for a long time. The following major categories of forests may be identified in our country:
- Tropical Rain Forests
- Montane Forests
- Tropical Deciduous Forests
- Tropical Thorn Forests and Scrubs
- Mangrove Forests
Need for Conservation of Forests
Conservation preserves the ecological diversity as well as our life support systems such as water, air and soil. It also preserves the genetic diversity of plants and animals for better growth of species as well as their breeding. Forests not only play an effective role in controlling temperature, humidity, and precipitation but also in water percolation thereby maintaining the underground water table.
Solved Question for You
Q 1: Which of the following is not correct to show the utility of forests?
- Forests provide shelter to various kinds of species
- They help in water conservation
- Forests provide a wide variety of commercial products
- Forests help in the conservation of soil
Ans: The correct answer is b. Forests do not help in water conservation.