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Forest Ecological Factors and Values

Define the key ecological factors (geology, soils, water relations, and climate) that determine the distribution of the major forest formations or types in the tropics versus those in the northeastern US Forests are one of the many resources the earth has been endowed with. It is estimated that about 30% of the earth’s surface is covered by forests and is the habitat for thousands of animal and plant species. When we talk about forests, we must discuss a number of ecological factors that make comprise the forest ecosystem.

These factors include: the soil types, geology, water, climate among other things. The soil types in different regions influence the survival of forests and how they are distributed. Moreover, soil structure and composition dictate the types of trees that will be found in a certain region. The sandy soils found mostly in the central and southern parts USA cannot fully sustain the growth and development of trees. That is why such areas have low plant life and have deserts. On the other hand, the Northeastern parts of the US are ever green and with fertile soils.

Availability of water is the number major factor for consideration as forests cannot survive in the absence of water. Forests do well in areas that have water all year round. Such areas; like the northeastern parts of USA, also have many rivers as they benefit from the ability of forests to attract rainfall through the water cycle process and this water bodies help during the dry spells. “(Turner 2001) The tropical regions have a longer dry spell. In addition, they do not have a lot of rivers and water masses hence they can only sustain certain types of trees which have the ability to survive in such conditions.

” Climatic conditions which comprise of rainfall and temperature also determine the distribution of forests. “Temperature influences wind patterns and ocean cycles and this changes in temperature will influence the amount of rainfall in a region (Whitmore, 1998). ” Temperatures in the northwestern regions are warmer and humid as compared to the northeastern regions where the temperatures are quit cool. Therefore the northeastern region has more rainfall for its forests than the western region.

Human activities have also contributed to the climatic changes which have changed the weather patterns in various places and this is more evident in the southern parts of the country whose climate patterns do not favor the growth and survival of the indigenous trees and plants. Geology entails studying the earth’s structure. “This study is important because we get to learn about the minerals and hydrocarbon components that are part of the nutrient cycles of trees and plant life (Whitmore 1998). ” Certain soil compositions have been disrupted by individuals and industries who dispose off harmful waste products to the environment.

When chemicals are disposed off and they combine with earths components, most of the time the end result does not favor plant life. The Northeastern regions still have the natural forest composed of the temperate mixed forests and boreal conifer forest, and only a small fraction of the land has not yet been invaded by humans and that is why it continues to strive unlike the central regions and part of the west where human activities such as mining and industrialization do not favor forest growth (Foster & Aber 2006).

Identify the diverse values contributed by conserving and sustainably managing these forest ecosystems. Conserving and managing forests requires regulating harvests, maintaining biodiversity, taking care of forests and avoiding practices that cause deforestation. “When we conserve our forests we ensure that endangered plant and animal species are safeguarded so that the next generation can enjoy what our forefathers left behind (Montagnini, F. & Carl F. Jordan). ” There was a time when essentially all of our medicines, like all of our foods, came directly from other organisms.

Today, traditional medicines especially herbal medicines remain a conspicuous and valuable legacy of this past. Research is being done by experimenting on various forest plant lives which are the primary source of medical chemicals as it has been seen and proven that they can cure certain diseases. Other uses derived from sustaining forests are: Forests are a source of raw materials for industries example timber and paper industry and in so doing has created jobs for people in those industries. It has provided materials used for shelter and food for the wild animals as well as humans.

Biomass fuel has been generated and used in homes and various oils and waxes used for lubricants, chemical feed stocks and some other specialized uses have been got from forests. Example is the jojoba plant which is easy to cultivate and can produces oil which can be used as lubricant. Forests can also be used for recreational purposes. After people have satisfied their basic wants, they need to sit down and enjoy what nature has to offer. It is well quoted in the book, Fundamentals of conservation Biology that, “enjoying another species does not necessarily require an economic activity.

” The forest ecosystem provides on avenue for relaxation example going for camping or hiking. People have made hobbies from natural themes example, painting the flora and fauna, shell collecting, while other people like botanizers, hunters and birders covet experiences with species they have not yet encountered. It is easy to find evidence of aesthetic, spiritual and emotional affinity in other species (Hunter & Sulzer 2002). This linkage is revealed in the symbols we choose for our governments, religions, even athletic teams and also decorations on our clothing, jewelry and homes.

Scientific and educational values have been gained in that human beings learn and draw from activities done by other living organisms. For example birds offered the inspiration to fly and that is how planes came to being. We need preserve and conserve our natural ecosystems as they provide us with a lot of useful things and it will be the pride of the current generation to able to pass down better and more useful forest resources to the future generation.

Reference Foster, D. R & Aber, D. J 2006, Forests in Time: The Environmental Consequences of 1,000 Years of Change in New England, Yale University Press Hunter, L. M. & Sulzer, A 2002, Fundamentals of Conservation Biology, 2nd Ed. Published by Blackwell Publishing, Montagnini, F. & Carl F. Jordan, C. F 2005, Tropical Forest Ecology: The Basis for Conservation and Management, Published by Springer Turner, M. I 2001, The Ecology of Trees in the Tropical Rain Forest Cambridge University Press Whitmore, C. T 1998, an Introduction to Tropical Rain Forests 2nd Ed Published by Oxford University Press

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