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Managing Ecosystems

Ecosystems often need managing, either to prevent their destruction (by invasive species for example) or to allow sustainable use of their resources. This GCSE Geography quiz looks at some of the methods of management used, their advantages, their disadvantages and their effect on the environment.

Mankind has been managing the ecosystems in Britain ever since the arrival of hunter-gatherers to our shores - not only to prevent their destruction, but also to exploit their resources. Forest clearings were maintained to allow deer to graze in these areas. The deer would shed their antlers yearly and these could be collected and used in mines as shovels and picks. Coppicing is the growth and management of trees to allow specific growth to be cut, for example the thinner branches for willow weaving, or thicker branches for hedging, making longbows and even for fire wood.

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Ecosystems management looks at managing natural resources by focusing on maintaining ecosystems in a sustainable manner. This will help to meet both ecological and human needs now and in the future. This system of management needs to be adaptive to changing needs and new information. One key technique is to balance the needs of the ecosystems with the realistic facts of the context of the ecosystem and the humans that might use the area.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a key source of minerals such as building stone. The mining and quarrying is managed so as to limit the damage being done to the ecosystem whilst still allowing this important economic activity. Other management includes removing plants and animal species that are considered invasive, reducing access to areas during sensitive periods (such as the bird nesting season), removing or reducing predators, and creating methods by which people can continue to rely on the ecosystem for an income in a sustainable manner.

Try this quiz and see how much you have learned about the management methods used to prevent the destruction of ecosystems and to allow us to sustainably use their resources.

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  1. Which of the following is not an advantage of ecotourism?
    Recently, tourists have gathered to see turtles come ashore in such large numbers that they have physically stopped the turtles finding places to nest. Whilst systems like hunting may seem disagreeable, it can be a better option than some
  2. Which of the following is not a way recreational users of ecosystems (such as cyclists, walkers, and horse riders) can negatively impact the natural environment?
    The positive impacts made by careful users of the countryside far outweigh the negatives, but it's key to remember that there are some negative impacts
  3. The 'Buy a Cardinal, Save a Tree' project encouraged fish keepers in economically advanced nations to buy aquarium fish caught in a sustainable manner by locals to the Amazon region. How does this encourage sustainability in the Amazon?
    Projects which work with local populations to export high-value products which require the natural ecosystem to be maintained, encourage sustainable use of those resources. Fish can command 10 times the price as aquarium pets than they do as a food source
  4. What is agroforestry?
    Growing crops among the trees allows farmers to use the shelter provided by the tree canopy. The trees reduce the soil erosion and the crops benifit from the nutrients resulting from decaying organic matter
  5. How do nature reserves help protect biodiversity?
    Reserves act as reservoirs for the ecosystem. Many marine species often breed in specific locations before moving into the wider ocean. By protecting the reefs, beaches and estuaries where breeding and the juvenile stages occur, the entire species is assisted. Harvesting of the plants and animals can still take place outside the reserve
  6. There has been a shift away from clean forests towards leaving wood to rot on the forest floor. What does leaving tree trunks and branches to rot do for the ecosystem?
    Many species have evolved to make use of fallen tree trunks and branches. By our removing this part of the ecosystem many species have suffered in the past
  7. Which of the following is not a way that humans manage ecosystems?
    Much of the ways we interact with the natural environment can be seen as managing, from removing rats and other pests from islands, working to encourage tourism and recreational activities, and even reducing plastic bag use - even though it shows an indirect benefit to the environment
  8. What is pollarding?
    By pollarding, the trees grow numerous small branches. These are cut and used for thatch, canes, fencing, firewood and more
  9. Which of the following is not an example of sustainable logging?
    As well as logging, there are multiple ways that people can generate an income from forests in a sustainable manner. Coppicing, and harvesting of higher priced speciality products, can provide more than cutting down large amounts of trees does
  10. In some forests, as trees are chopped down, they are replaced and allowed to grow to a reasonable size before being logged in turn. What is this known as?
    Afforestation can also refer to the planting of trees for later logging or for other purposes, such as habitat renewal or to protect species of economic value

Author: Ruth M

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