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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.

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Clean forests prompt pollution rethink

South American streams call current nitrogen-cycle theory into question. Pollution may have altered northern hemisphere forests dramatically. The surprise finding that clean forests use nitrogen differently to polluted ones emphasizes the effect that humans have on the planet’s nitrogen cycle 1 . It may even prompt a rethink of the way that this cycle works. Humans have added vast amounts of nitrogen to the earth’s ecosystems. The element fertilizes plants. T 24.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Recycled plastic - the fashion fabric of the future

A novel research project is looking at ways to recycle plastic bottles for use in the fashion industry in a bid to halt the landfill crisis. Although recycled PET (Polyethylene terepthalate) has been used in a limited way in the fashion industry, Northumbria University PhD student Yukie Nakano is working to identify the barriers affecting the wider introduction of recycled textile products. Yukie, who is also a research assistant in the Centre for Design Research, is also experimenting with 23.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Ozone and UV over Europe: no sign of improvement

“The occurrence of ozone mini-holes over Europe increases and any ozone layer recovery could only become measurable around 2010 at the earliest” concludes an assessment report, released today, on European research in the stratosphere. The report concerns loss of ozone, increases in ultraviolet radiation as well as the impact of aircraft on the atmosphere. It covers European research efforts during the period 1996-2000 including the Third European Stratospheric Experiment on Ozone – THESEO, which is t 22.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Slick birds are wearing wool

Knitted pullovers protect penguins from oil discharge Knitters around the world have pulled together to save thousands of oil-soaked little penguins on Phillip Island, southern Australia. Ten thousand penguin-sized, pure-wool jumpers have flooded into the offices of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust in response to their call for emergency insulation for a vulnerable population of world’s smallest penguins - sometimes known as fairy penguins. In mid-December 2001 a cru 22.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Bacterial batteries clean up

Researchers name the microbes that could produce power by munching pollution. Bacteria could clear up oil spills and generate electricity at the same time. US scientists have identified microbes that produce power as they digest organic waste 1 . The bacteria strip electrons from carbon in ocean sediments to convert it into the carbon dioxide they need for metabolism and growth. Usually the organisms just dump the electrons onto iron or sulphate minerals on 18.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Adding Nitrogen to Ballast Water Can Prevent Corrosion and Alien Invasions

Aquatic organisms often hitch a ride in the ballast tanks of ocean-crossing ships, ending up in ports far from their native habitats. Upon arrival, these alien species can wreak havoc in their new environs, forcing out native species and incurring huge economic costs. Now a new report published in the journal Biological Conservation suggests that a certain anti-corrosion technique could help prevent such invasions while saving the shipping industry hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. C 09.01.2002 | nachricht Read more

Conservationists patch it up

Urban wildlife may not use green corridors. Green corridors do little to aid wildlife, say UK ecologists. Their discovery that isolated wild ground contains just as many plant species as do patches linked by continuous greenery casts doubt on current conservation priorities. "The proportion of organisms that use [wildlife corridors] is exceedingly small," says botanist Mark Hill of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Monks Wood. Only vertebrates seem to benefit, he says. 21.12.2001 | nachricht Read more

Lessons in landscape

Keeping parks pretty means tailoring the trees to their source of water. Irrigation water recycled from sewage can damage many plant species, new research has found 1 . The results show that landscape architects should tailor their choice of plants to the type of water they will receive. Dale Devitt of the University of Nevada at Reno and colleagues began studying the effects of different water sources on plants after reports that ’reuse’ water had damaged tr 05.12.2001 | nachricht Read more

Study Suggests Predators Are Vital to Health of Ecosystems

The question of which forces control terrestrial ecosystems lies at the heart of a long-standing debate among ecologists. One theory, the so-called bottom-up theory, suggests that plant defense mechanisms exert control by limiting food availability for herbivores. Top-down theorists, however, suggest that predators limit the numbers of herbivores and hence their impact on the vegetation. Now new findings in the current issue of the journal Science that describe animal communities isolated for 15 year 04.12.2001 | nachricht Read more

Clean sheet for paper making

New catalyst means greener paper is not pulp fiction. Pollution from paper production could be cut, say US chemists, with a new way of refining wood pulp 1 . But the process must go through the mill before it can convert industry. During paper production, gluey wood component lignin is stripped out to leave stringy cellulose. The harsh chemicals used create environmental pollutants, such as toxic and long-lasting chlorinated compounds. A new chemical 08.11.2001 | nachricht Read more
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Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

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