Forest ecosystem(terrestrial ecosystem)
Introduction: The forest ecosystems are of great concern from the environmental point of view. World’s total land area is 13,076 million hectares - (Source: FAO; 1989) Of which total forests account for about 31% of the world’s land area. In India, the forest cover is roughly 19% of the total land area.
It provides numerous environmental services like:
- Nutrient cycling
- Maintaining biodiversity
- Providing wildlife habitat
- Affecting rainfall patterns
- Regulating stream flow
- Storing water
- Reducing flooding
- Preventing soil erosion
- Reclaiming degraded land & many more
- Apart from environmental values, forest ecosystems have some traditional values as well.
- Fire Wood & Timber
- Herbs & drugs.
TYPES OF FOREST ECOSYSTEM: There are various types of Forest ecosystem.
1-Tropical Rain Forest: Days usually last 12 hours, temperatures averaging around 77 degrees F, surplus of rain and high insolation (sunlight) are all attributes of a tropical rain forest year-round. Tropical rain forests cover the Amazon region, as well as equatorial regions in Africa, Southeast Asia, the east coast of Central America and elsewhere along the equator. These areas are characterized by broadleaf evergreen trees, vines, tree ferns and palms.
2-Temperate Evergreen and Deciduous Forest: Found in North America, Europe and Asia, temperate evergreen and deciduous forests tend to blend together at times. Needle leaf and broadleaf trees inhabit the forests. In southern and eastern areas that are fervent with evergreen pines, controlled forest fires still take place as the natural cycle of forest re-growth and enrichment. As far as weather conditions, it is a moderate climate with a cold season.
3-Boreal Forest: The boreal forest, also known as the needle leaf forest, covers most of the subarctic climate areas located in Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Russia and Europe. "Taiga" is a broader term used for boreal forest in order to encompass areas transitioning to arctic climate conditions. While there aren't any boreal forests in the Southern Hemisphere, there are mountain forests comprised of needle leaf trees that survive all over the world at extremely high elevations.
4-Savanna and Woodland: Savanna and woodland ecosystems have a susceptibility to fires and the ability to rejuvenate and re-grow. Prevalent in South America, Africa and Australia, savannas and woodlands are characterized by vast areas of grasslands, bush thickets and clusters of sparse trees with flattened crowns.
Commercial Importance: Humankind derives many benefits from forest ecosystems. Many medicines and pharmaceuticals have been discovered in plants native to forests. Local communities survive on plants and animals culled from the forests. Products that modern society depends on such as wood, paper and bamboo all originate from forest ecosystems. Many other desirable products such as spices, gums and dyes, even your daily vitamins are also found in forests around the globe. Forests are important to humans for aesthetic reasons as well, and ecotourism is one way to use and promote the protection of forests in a sustainable manner.
A Forest Ecosystem can be as small as a tiny Forest Pool or as large as the entire Forest A Forest Biome is generally larger like the Desert Biome or the National Forest System Biome A Forest Biome designates the area and generally does not contemplate the workings within which is what halting Climate Change is all about. It is the Trees and the Forest Ecosystem that prduces the Oxygen, Removes the particulate matter, cleans, humidifies and cools the Air.
Ecology: In addition to assisting in climate control, forests have other ecological benefits. They prevent erosion by reducing the rainfall's force on the soil's surface and by absorbing water and not allowing it to directly run off and remove topsoil. Forests also act as water filters, collecting and storing water and recharging underground aquifers. Tropical montane forests are especially important to watersheds. Forests also increase the atmosphere's humidity by transpiration, which affects temperature and rainfall.
Biodiversity: Forests contain a greater range of biodiversity than any other ecosystems on earth. Only a fraction of the species found in forests have been examined and studied. A single massive tree in the Amazon rainforest can be home for thousands of species. The wide variety of trees and plants found in tropical forests comprises particularly intensive biodiversity. This biodiversity is be important on its own terms in ways we may not currently understand, as interdependent species have evolved over millions of years to interact and flourish.