Ecosystem processes and services
An ecosystem comprises a biological community and its associated physical and chemical environment. Humans benefit from a multitude of natural resources and services that are supplied by ecosystems. Such services include nutrient cycling, erosion control, climate regulation, and water purification. Ongoing exploitation and land-use intensification have led to declines in ecosystem condition. As a result, there is an increasing need to understand ecosystem services and processes for improved management and restoration of remaining natural capital and intact natural services.
Nutrients move in cycles that are driven directly or in directly by incoming solar energy and by the earth’s gravity. The main nutrient cycles describe the movement of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous.
Various compounds of carbon dioxide circulate through the biosphere, the atmosphere, and parts of the hydrosphere. Carbon sequestration is the process by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere and stored as biomass.
Ecosystem services are the benefits that humans receive from nature. These benefits are as diverse as clean air to breath, pollination of our food crops, and appealing landscapes in which to spend our time.
Soil erosion is the movement of soil components from one place to another through the actions of wind or water. Flowing water is the largest cause of erosion in New Zealand. Unsustainable farming practice, deforestation, and overgrazing lead to the destruction of soil-holding plants.