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Ecology, environmental protection and nature conservation - for a green future

Ecology is a subdiscipline of biology that examines the interrelationships of organisms and their environment.

Ecology as a generic term for the overall relationship between living beings and the environment

Environmental protection and nature conservation are elements of ecology. Because environmental awareness has been on the rise since the middle of the 20th century, the term ecology is frequently used in the same breath as environmental protection andnature conservation. There is a demarcation line however. Ecology describes the relationship between living beings and the environment, while environmental protection and nature conservation involve measures aimed at preserving the environment. Although ecology research is a broad field, it can be broken down into three main subdisciplines :

  • Population ecology
  • Community ecology
  • Ecological system analyses

At a high level, ecology involves the propagation and frequency of organisms. Where do they come from? What type of organism did they originate from? How many are there? And where do they appear? The goal of ecological analyses is providing answers to these questions. Biotic and abiotic environmental factors that can influence the environment are also part any ecological analysis. What makes ecological research so difficult is the complexity of the biological systems. Individual observations serve less as focal points and more as general conclusions produced from mathematics, statistics or experiments. A vital part of ecology is reducing complex structures to simple conclusions based on natural science.

Environmental protection and its subdisciplines

While ecology takes a holistic approach, environmental protectionmainly involves measures aimed at preserving the basic existence of all living beings. This calls for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. For this reason, nature conservation plays a leading role in ecology as well as in environmental protection. A basic element of environmental protection involves rectifying human-induced damage to the environment. As a result, this requires observing not only the individual parts, but the overall relationships between the parts as well, The term environmental protection first gained attention in the 1970s. One of the primary goals of environmental protection is preserving the human ecosystem. Although preservation of the human ecosystem is a major aspect of environmental protection, technical solutions are still frequently employed. Environmental protection can be divided into several disciplines:

  • climate protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection
  • forest protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection
  • water protection as a subdiscipline of environmental protection

From a global point of view,environmental protection is always related to one of these subdisciplines.

Nature conservation as a demarcation line between environmental protection and ecology

Apart from ecology and environmental protection, an important area is nature conservation. Although environmental protection and nature conservation typically complement one another, there are certain exceptions. In the field of ecology, renewable raw materials such as wood are points of conflict between nature conservation and environmental protection. While nature conservation demands that trees be preserved as long as possible and eventually turned into deadwood for the ecosystem of a variety of animals, environmental protection views wood as a sustainable energy source and raw material. Environmental protection also seeks to avoid the radical deforesting of lands and forests. Within nature conservation there are also initiatives that oppose wind power and small hydropower systems. Under the context of nature conservation, the idea is to impact nature as little as possible. Nature conservation is also a local issue. Nature conservation frequently involves single locations. As it pertains to ecology, nature conservation examines ways to preserve and reestablish a balanced ecosystem. Nature conservation strives toward sustainable human use of our natural environment. Nature conservation is a goal of government and is established in Article 20a of the German constitution. Nature conservation also means the protection of animals and homelands. Many individuals also view nature conservation as important, because they understand the dramatic consequences if society is not actively engaged in nature conservation.

Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

This complex theme deals primarily with interactions between organisms and the environmental factors that impact them, but to a greater extent between individual inanimate environmental factors.

innovations-report offers informative reports and articles on topics such as climate protection, landscape conservation, ecological systems, wildlife and nature parks and ecosystem efficiency and balance.

Latest News:

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Using drones to estimate crop damage by wild boars

Growing populations of wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) are causing more and more damage to agricultural land in Europe, requiring hundreds of thousands of Euros in compensation. A new drone-based method allows estimating crop damage in a fast, standardised and objective manner.

Anneleen Rutten, PhD student at the University of Antwerp and the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO, Brussels) will present the method at the...

12.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

How fires are changing the tundra’s face

Climate change takes a heavy toll on the tundra, increasing the probability of extreme droughts. As a result, the frequency of fires in forests, bogs and even wetlands continues to rise. In addition, the northern areas of the tundra have also become more accessible and negatively impacted by human activities in recent years.

Two young ecologists from the University of Münster are studying the serious consequences fires can have for vegetation, soils and some endangered bird...

12.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. In the Horizon 2020 project MinWaterCSP, the consortium aims to reduce the annual water consumption of a CSP plant through a number of complementary measures while maintaining or even improving thermal efficiency and reducing capital costs. Eighteen months into the project, the MinWaterCSP project partners have already achieved excellent results.

In Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, collectors are bundling the sunlight on an absorber in order to generate electricity. CSP plants are often installed...

05.12.2017 | nachricht Read more

Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems

How serious is the loss of species globally? Are material cycles in an ecosystem with few species changed? In order to find this out, the "Jena Experiment" was established in 2002, one of the largest biodiversity experiments worldwide. Professor Wolfgang Weisser from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) reports on two unexpected findings of the long-term study: Biodiversity influences almost half the processes in the ecosystem, and intensive grassland management does not result in higher yields than high biodiversity.

An ecosystem provides humans with natural "services", such as the fertility of the soil, the quality of the groundwater, the production of food, and...

28.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Species may appear deceptively resilient to climate change

Ecological air conditioning offers short-term protection from a warming climate

Nature itself can be the best defense against climate change for many species -- at least in the short term­ -- according to a study published in the journal Ecology Letters...

24.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Scientists team up on study to save endangered African penguins

Findings provide key strategies for rehabilitation

With less than 25,000 breeding pairs in existence today, it is an uphill battle for the African Penguin, which calls South Africa home. The 60 percent drop in...

16.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Climate change: Urban trees are growing faster worldwide

Trees in metropolitan areas have been growing faster than trees in rural areas worldwide since the 1960s. This has been confirmed for the first time by a study on the impact of the urban heat island effect on tree growth headed by the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The analysis conducted by the international research team also shows that the growth of urban trees has already been exposed to changing climatic conditions for a long period of time, which is only just beginning to happen for trees in rural areas.

„While the effects of climate change on tree growth in forests have been extensively studied, there is little information available so far for urban trees“,...

13.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Green rooves to reduce the effects of climate change

Experts from the University of Seville highlight that these systems mean an energy saving for building owners, contribute to reducing pollution and cushioning temperatures

Researchers from the Higher Technical School of Agricultural Engineering of the University of Seville have published a study in which they indicate that it...

13.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Cities can cut greenhouse gas emissions far beyond their urban borders

Greenhouse gas emissions caused by urban households’ purchases of goods and services from beyond city limits are much bigger than previously thought. These upstream emissions may occur anywhere in the world and are roughly equal in size to the total emissions originating from a city’s own territory, a new study shows. This is not bad news but in fact offers local policy-makers more leverage to tackle climate change, the authors argue in view of the UN climate summit COP23 that just started.

They calculated the first internationally comparable greenhouse gas footprints for four cities from developed and developing countries: Berlin, New York,...

07.11.2017 | nachricht Read more

Reducing manure and fertilizers decreases atmospheric fine particles

A decrease of agricultural ammonia emissions avoids mortality attributable to air pollution

Fine particulates have numerous sources – not only traffic, which is currently under particular scrutiny. Reducing agricultural emissions could also...

30.10.2017 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

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