The environment in which diverse biotic components thrive along with the presence of abiotic components is called an Ecosystem. Similarly, forest ecosystem is the term used for the environment where plants form the major or significant constituent of the biotic hemisphere. Therefore, forest ecology consists of all forms of trees, animals, micro-organisms and abiotic components such as soil, water, etc. Together, biotic and abiotic components form a suitable environment that may or may not sustain diversification of either component.
The general perception among public is that forests are land masses where unusually large number of trees grow and where bizarre living organisms can be found, all of which make the place inhabitable for humans. In reality, forests have as much impact on people’s life as technology has. Although forest ecosystem is about diverse life-forms and abiotic components, together, those components influence other ecological branches of ‘tree of life’.
Cycle of Natural Regeneration
The cycle of natural regeneration of plants or reproduction of animals depends upon forests. The less interfered a forest is, the better its species survive, which in turn, is beneficial for the forest and to the humans depending on the forests. Carnivores depend upon herbivores for food while herbivores depend upon vegetation for the same. On the other hand, micro-organisms cause the decay of bodies of all dead animals and thus, supply nutrients to the soil, which is helpful for the growth of vegetation. This chain of dependency is taught to children at younger ages but is rarely emphasized lately. Thus, interference with any component of forest ecosystem affects, significantly or insignificantly, the overall ecological balance.
Stability and fragility
Stability or fragility of forest ecosystem depends upon the diversity of species that thrive in it, which also determines its capability to withstand unusual interferences. The more heterogeneous the environment is, the more it is capable of supporting various life-forms. Besides, an ecosystem depends upon and is formed according to relative humidity, solar radiation, temperature and wind speed of the region. It also depends upon rainfall although it regulates rainfall too. The complexity of forest ecology is evident from the fact that forests are classified on the basis of various factors and not just population.
Forests are resources of energy, which makes them immediately useful for humans but also demands their protection. Excessive exploitation of a forest ruins its balance and may diminish the resources forever. However, if maintained properly, the vast reserves of potential energy of tall, erect trees can be exploited for continuous supply of fuel for humans’ consumption. What is significant is that, forest ecosystem is almost self-sustainable. Cycle of nutrients, rainfall and regeneration is naturally managed in a forest. Water and forests complement each other and dwindling forest health may not provide adequate protection from flood, erosion, etc. Thus, forest is an integral part of ecology and must be cherished.