What Is a Sustainable Ecosystem?
Ecosystems are the foundation for our survival and the survival of the earth. Hidden in plain sight, ecosystems exist all around us.
But what do they actually do for us, and how do these ecosystems sustain themselves?
Keep reading to learn more about how crucial sustainable ecosystems are to our overall well-being and the health of the earth.
At Bite, we feel that personal care and environmental care work hand in hand. When we take better care of ourselves with sustainable, clean products, we are helping take care of the planet, too. We opt for plastic-free packaging, carbon-neutral shipping methods, and refills for our products so that you can cover your needs without harming our earth.
What Does It Mean for an Ecosystem To Be Sustainable?
In order to understand what a sustainable ecosystem is, it is important to know what makes an ecosystem. An ecosystem is a community of living things like plants, animals, and organisms that work together to transport and create resources for each other to survive.
What makes an ecosystem sustainable is its ability to support itself without the need for outside influence.
An ecosystem becomes unsustainable when crucial elements are taken away — which usually happens because of human influence.
What Are Some Examples of Sustainable Ecosystems?
Sustainable ecosystems provide resources for their own inhabitants and resources for humans, like water and food. Below are some examples of sustainable ecosystems.
Wetlands are areas of land that are covered with water, and hydrophytes are the main characteristic of wetland ecosystems. Hydrophytes are plants that grow in low-oxygen areas, serving as a food source for other organisms.
Wetland ecosystems are sustainable partly because they house and sustain many different species of animals. For example, moose are able to thrive in wetland ecosystems because they eat hydrophyte plants as a significant source of nutrition.
For humans, wetlands are important because they provide a means of treating sewage. Naturally occurring bacteria cleanses this water, making these areas safe places for plants and wildlife.
Rainforest ecosystems are known for their warm temperatures and humid air. Rainforests are home to over 30 million species of plants and animals, not to mention indigenous populations.
Rainforests are also a significant oxygen source since their trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen in return.
Rainforests are homes to a diverse range of plants and animals, and this diversity in species is what allows rainforests to be self-sufficient and sustainable. However, stressors like deforestation can impact a rainforest’s sustainability.
In contrast to wet and humid rainforests, deserts are areas that receive very little rain every year.
Though many species of animals that live in these ecosystems are warm-blooded, they have adapted to scorching temperatures and dry air. There are also plants like cacti that can easily store water, which is beneficial when precipitation is rare.
Deserts provide essential resources like mineral deposits. One example is borate, a salt used to create glass and some ceramics. Deserts are also hotspots for mining because they naturally produce oil, precious metals, and gems.
What makes desert ecosystems sustainable, despite having a very limited water source, is the way that plants and animals have adapted to the dry heat and lack of precipitation.
Corals are organisms that build together to form coral reefs. Coral reefs provide shelter, food, and areas to reproduce for countless species of sea life.
Coral reefs sustain themselves by providing a healthy living environment for zooxanthellae, a type of algae. These algae perform photosynthesis and produce carbohydrates that the coral can then use as food.
Coral reefs are important ecosystems because they protect coastlines from storms and erosion, and they are also a source of food and even medicine.
What Are the Characteristics of a Sustainable Ecosystem?
In order to be considered sustainable, ecosystems must have characteristics that allow them to exist and thrive without outside influence or resources.
Availability of Energy
Energy is one of the most important elements that fuels sustainable ecosystems.
Organisms need energy to complete tasks that involve transferring resources or elements that other organisms in the ecosystem need to survive.
For an ecosystem to be sustainable, energy must be available for the plants, animals, and other organisms that exist in these systems. Energy can take the form of sunlight for plants or food sources for organisms.
Room for Growth and Expansion
An environment that is suitable for habitation is extremely important for an ecosystem to exist, but an environment that allows for expansion and growth is also essential.
Unfortunately, human activities like deforestation and pollution cause difficulties for crucial ecosystems to survive and expand. Deforestation, for example, dwindles the number of trees in ecosystems like rainforests, thus reducing habitats for the animals in those ecosystems.
Because most animals and organisms rely on water to survive, having access to water in an ecosystem is vital to its survival. Many sustainable ecosystems have systems that filter and replenish water.
With constant stressors like water pollution and droughts caused by climate change, water sources for ecosystems are becoming more scarce.
Sustainable ecosystems must have sufficient nutrient availability, meaning that each element of the sustainable ecosystem needs the proper amount of nutrition to function properly.
Nutrient availability for plants means that they have enough sunlight and nutrient-dense soil to thrive. Animals and organisms must have enough food, whether it be plants, other animals, or smaller organisms, to carry out their functions and tasks to sustain the ecosystem.
Why Are Sustainable Ecosystems Important?
Sustainable ecosystems are crucial because they provide life-giving resources and conditions like purified air and water, food, and climate regulation.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life in an ecosystem, and this is also important because it allows ecosystems to adapt better to outside stressors in order to survive.
Can a Non-Sustainable Ecosystem Become Sustainable?
Non-sustainability refers to the way an ecosystem is affected by human consumption and activities to the point that it can no longer replenish resources and recover.
Ecosystems can become unsustainable when they are constantly affected by pollution, deforestation, and overconsumption of resources.
That said, it is possible for a non-sustainable ecosystem to become sustainable.
How Can Ecosystems Become More Sustainable?
Ecological sustainability is one of the most beneficial ways to help ecosystems become more sustainable after suffering damage.
Ecological sustainability involves restoring the structure and processes of ecosystems by first learning about how those ecosystems operate.
We can also reduce the impact of human consumption on ecosystems by making changes that help us reduce waste and air pollution.
At Bite, we understand how important ecosystems are to our survival and the health of the earth. The truth is that we only have one earth to live on — and while this can be frightening, it can also be motivating.
We want to help you clean up your daily routine so that you can take care of your health and the health of the earth. That is why we have created a line of sustainable personal care products in refillable glass jars.
By using less plastic, we can help cut down on the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and, eventually, oceans where ecosystems like coral reefs reside.
Are There More Sustainable or Non-Sustainable Ecosystems Today?
According to a study, only 3% of all of the earth’s habitats are undisturbed today.
This devastating number results from years of human consumption and harmful means of obtaining natural resources.
By studying how ecosystems work, practicing sustainability, and learning about sustainable ecology, we can restore our earth and ecosystems back to health.
Simple steps to build sustainable habits can include using recycled toilet paper, cutting down on plastic use, and even meal prepping to reduce food waste. Any small steps to reduce your consumption and waste can add up to something bigger.
The Bottom Line
Sustainable ecosystems have the ability to exist and thrive independently. However, because of human consumption, overuse of resources from ecosystems, and other harmful activities, more and more are being damaged every day.
It is imperative that we study how ecosystems work and how we can be more sustainable to help reverse the damage.
With Bite, cleaning up your personal care routine also means cleaning up your sustainability habits — habits that will ultimately help our ecosystems and heal our earth.
Ecosystems | Sustainable Environment Online
wetland | National Geographic Society
Hydrophytic Vegetation | Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Learn about rainforests | Rainforest Concern
Deserts as Ecosystems: Why They Need Protecting | Environmental Science
Coral reef ecosystems | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
What are Coral Reefs | Coris.noaa.gov
Principles of Ecosystem Sustainability | The American Naturalist
Water, health and ecosystems | WHO
Why do we need to protect biodiversity? | EC
Non-sustainability Definition and Examples | Biology Online Dictionary
ecological sustainability | USDA Forest Service
Just 3% of world's land ecosystems remain intact, study suggests | CNN