The earth is composed of different biotic communities. Among them is the forest biome that is known to occupy about a third of the total Earth’s surface. The forest biome is a home to a wide range of both animal and the plant species.
There are three different types of forests, which include the tropical rainforests, cool coniferous and the temperate forest. Each of the forest types is found on a different location on the Earth’s surface, which depends on various factors such as climatic conditions.
In the ancient times, the forest biome was adored and mostly used for religious reasons such as worshipping and sacrificing. However, the situation is different in the recent past where the increase in human population has led to issues of deforestation and pollution just to mention a few. This paper will therefore, explore the three greatest threats to the sustainability of the temperate forest biome.
The temperate forest biome
This forest biome is mostly found in the Northern part of the hemisphere, which includes parts of Central and Western Europe, North America and the North-east Asia (Smith 1). The temperate forest will occur in regions where the season is characterized by periods of winter.
The types of trees present in this type of forest biome include cedar, oaks, and elm trees among other trees featured by shedding of leaves during falls. The canopy of the temperate forests in normally thinner compared to other forest types. This in turn, allows more of sunlight to penetrate through to the ground. The presence of sunlight gives room for photosynthesis to take place. In addition to this, the penetration of sunlight makes it possible for the smaller cold-blooded animals such as snakes, amphibians and turtles to survive.
Other animal types found include the birds, mountain lion, timber wolf, black bear and the fox among others. The existence of these animals leads to the presence of decaying matter in the form of their excretion or dead bodies (Smith 1). As a result, the soil is richer than that of other forest types. Because the forests exist in places where winter is prevalent, the animal species in these forests have also adapted to hibernation to overcome the winter seasons.
The greatest threats to the sustainability of temperate forests
For a long time, the forest biome was safe from all types of environmental degradation threats. However, in the recent past, the forest biome has undergone serious degradation, which has significantly affected its substantiality. Actually, if the current trend continues, the future generation will not be able to see the different tree species present in these forests. Just like the other forest types, the temperate forest biome has several threats that have significantly affected the sustainability of these forests.
As mentioned earlier, the increasing human population is one of the greatest threats. The fact that human beings have encroached to areas that were earlier occupied by temperate forests poses a threat to this forest biome (Marietta College Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences 1).
Human beings have encroached to these areas because of the high fertility of the soils in these areas, which is particularly suitable for agriculture. Agriculture has also played a key role in the interruption of the water systems in these forest biomes. An example of how agriculture has affected water systems is the sedimentation that has taken place in the Maumee River thus creating a bay (Marietta College Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences 1).
The settlement of human beings in these regions has had a negative impact on the sustainability of the temperate forests as once the forest has been destroyed it becomes difficult to revive it. This is because the process of reviving entails first relocating the people, preparing the land and planting the seedlings, which could take up to fifty years to be back to the initial state.
Another great threat of the temperate forest is logging whereby trees are cut down to be used for various functions such as timber, paper manufacturing among others. The reason behind this is that most of the tree species found in the temperate forests is of the hardwood type.
As such, they have high wood density compared to other types of trees. Loggers therefore, would definitely prefer these types of trees since they have high returns. Logging becomes a threat because once the trees are cut down it takes quite some time to have the same forest (Marietta College Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences 1). Actually, the high wood density trees have been noted to grow at a slower rate than the coniferous trees.
The other greatest threat to the sustainability of the temperate forest biome is acid rain. Acid rain occurs when carbon, sulphur and nitrogen oxides are emitted into the atmosphere thus reacting with the water hence producing acids (Likens et al 244). When rain falls, it is acidic because of the acids produced.
The acid rain is normally harmful to all biotic life including the aquatic animals and plants. The effects of acid rain are seriously felt in the temperate forests more than the other forest types. The reason behind this is that fog and clouds often cover the leaves of trees in the temperate forests since they occur in low temperature regions. When acid rain falls in the regions covered by temperate forests, the pH of the soil is affected becoming less productive and fertile, thus not able to sustain the growth of the trees.
As such, leaching of calcium occurs hence the trees become less tolerant to cold; thus, they are not able to withstand the winter injury. When this happens, the trees have stunted growth and in extreme cases, they end up dying. Other than damaging the trees in these forests, acid rain brings about global warming, which in turn causes global warming (Marietta College Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences 1). Global warming is known to affect the rainfall pattern of a place and in serious cases causing desertification.
From the above discussion, it is clear that forests are under several threats, most of which have been caused by the increase in human population. The temperate forest biome is no exception, which has been faced with problems of people practicing agriculture, logging and the acid rain caused by air pollution that comes about because of various human activities.
If the solutions to the aforementioned problems are not established, the forests will be affected in a great deal (Sedjo et al 9). This will have a negative impact on their sustainability, and therefore, the future generation will not have even the slightest glimpse of the different tree species found in the temperate forests.
Likens, Gene., Driscoll, John., and Buso, Donald. “Long-term effects of acid rain: response and recovery of a forest ecosystem.” Science 272 (1996): 244-246. Print.
Marietta College Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences. The Temperate Deciduous Forest. n.d. Web. 28 October 2011. < http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/tempded.htm>
Sedjo, Roger., Goetzl, Alberto., and Moffat, Steverson. Sustainability of temperate forests. 1998. Washington. Resources for the Future. Print.
Smith, David. The Forest Biome. 2006. Web. 28 October 2011. < http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/forests.php>