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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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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

Genes show seasonal trends

Mosquitoes’ evolve rapidly in response to global warming. Mosquitoes are holing up later as winters get warmer, US ecologists have shown. This is the first genetic adaptation to global warming to be identified. Less flexible animals could face extinction, they warn. The North American mosquito Wyeomyia smithii uses shortening day length to judge when to bed down for the winter. Modern mozzies wait nine days more than their ancestors did in 1972, William Bradshaw and Christin 06.11.2001 | nachricht Read more

Felling trees has sky-high price

Deforestation is drying out cloud forests. "It drips," says ecologist Robert Lawton, describing the Costa Rican cloud forest, "and it’s plastered with plants of all sizes climbing over each other. Stand still for long and they’re growing on you." Now the lush life he describes may be threatened. Satellite pictures show that deforestation at the foot of western Costa Rican mountains is drying out swirling summit mists. When warm, wet tradewinds blowing off the Caribb 19.10.2001 | nachricht Read more

Birds fly in the face of green farming incentive scheme

European subsidies to enhance farmland wildlife may not be working. The effectiveness of schemes that seek to promote biodiversity by paying farmers to cut back on intensive agriculture could be called into question by some research findings from Holland. The incentive programmes, which already cost the European Union 1.7 billion euros (US$1.5 billion) each year and are rapidly expanding in scope, are partly motivated by the desire of European governments to subsidize farmin 16.10.2001 | nachricht Read more

UV Beam Identifies Invisible Air Pollutants

Air pollution used to be something you could see and smell. But as air quality standards have tightened, the air over most industrial sites, airports and cities has gradually cleared. Nevertheless, invisible toxic agents such as ethyl benzene, butadiene and styrene continue to pose risks to public health. With a view to detecting and quantifying these agents, Siemens Environmental Systems Limited in Poole, England has introduced UV Falcon. The system consists of a transmitter that projects a UV (ult 27.06.2001 | nachricht Read more
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