An ecosystem is an ecological unit that contains a relatively uniform vegetation base and the animals and other organisms that depend upon it. It also includes the non-living components such as soil and organic matter. The benefits of ecosystems will vary with the type. While ecosystems have aesthetic value, certain ecosystems provide other more tangible benefits.
Covering up to 40 percent of the earth’s surface, grasslands provide economic benefits to over 800 million people worldwide.
In addition to its timber value, nearly two-thirds of the United States water supply is naturally filtered and stored in forests.
Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
The commercial fishing industry generates over $152 billion annually, making marine and freshwater ecosystems important economic resources.
Wetland ecosystems provide flood protection with a single acre of wetlands being capable of storing over 1 million gallons of water.
Coastal areas provide land for homes and businesses, with nearly one-half of the entire world population living within 120 miles of coastline.
- Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ezra Freelove