Impact of Humans on the Florida Everglades Ecosystem

Impact of Humans on the Florida Everglades Ecosystem The Florida Everglades is a region that is characterized with shallow and immense floods with numerous hills that have become islands. The region is known to hold several freshwater swamps that include Blue Cypress Water Management Area, Everglades National Park, Highlands Hammock State Park, Collier-Seminole State Park, Tosohattchee State Reserve, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and the Big Cypress National Park (National Research, 2002). These swamps are facing numerous threats from human activities that undermine the region and its habitats. This paper is designed to look into the various impacts that the human activities carried out in the Florida Everglades region have on the ecosystem, the future effects on the ecosystem and a conclusion that explores the various benefits that humans accrue from the region. Impact of Humans on the Florida Everglades Ecosystem In the recent past, different organisms in different ecosystems around the world have been affected by the ongoing destructive human activities that keep changing and increasing with time (Pryor, 2005). Both positive and negative effects have been felt in numerous ecosystems. According to Pryor (2005), human activity has immensely altered the natural equilibrium. This paper looks into the impacts that human activities have had on the ecosystem of the Florida Glades, the projected future impacts and the possible recommendations regarding the situation. A map showing the original boundaries of The Everglades The ecosystem inhabits numerous organisms. fungi, bacteria as well as many plant and animal species (biotic factors). In addition, other non-life factors affect or alter the lives of the living organisms in the region (abiotic factors). These factors include environmental factors like the general habitat i.e. swamp/pond, temperature and rain among others. In the Florida Glades region, human population has hugely increased leading to logging of swampy areas and draining them so as to create room for residential developments and farming. Most of the land in the region that was mucky and wet has been occupied and is now used for livestock rearing, farming crops, and construction of houses for settlement. In areas that had swamps, sugarcane plantations are thriving. citrus orchards and livestock pastures have also been established in the same areas. This has a mass effect on organisms that inhabit the swampy areas, leading to extinction of some species of both swamp flora and fauna (Exploring Life, 2000). To make matters worse, the remaining wet areas are now being polluted by discharges from farms and urban settlements. On average, it is estimated that more than half of the original wetlands in the Florida Glades has been destroyed by human activities. National Research (2002) reveals that the ever increasing human activities in the Florida Glades have not only affected the area in terms of destroying the wetlands, but they have also contributed heavily in altering the drainage patterns of the state. The activities have also destroyed the natural homes of numerous organisms and/or wildlife, and have resulted in an interference with the wetlands’ natural filtration systems. A suitable example of this is the Everglades National Park swamp which has been subject to significant alterations as a result of human activities in the area (Moeller, 2005). In the future, the park will as well be missing as a result of the increasing demand for housing in the Everglades. To help stop this from happening, humans are expected to spearhead the campaign by not draining water from the Everglades. More than one third of the total land in the Everglades is covered by freshwater marsh and cypress swamp (Moeller, 2005). As a result, many people in the region opt to drain water from the nearby sources. which happens to be the Everglades. Consequently, these practices keep reducing the areas covered in water. The continued extensive draining and construction of canals in the region has reduced the swamplands in large sizes thus affecting the natural drainage and filtration process of the ecosystem. The ecosystem does not only support life, but also supports non living organisms, or rather, the human activities carried out do not only affect living organisms directly, but also the abiotic factors (National Research, 2002). As a result of this drainage, canal building, agricultural and construction activities and other human activities, the quality of water is drastically reduced. In addition, National Research (2002) reports that when water levels in a region reduce the climatic conditions also change. In essence, most unsustainable human developments have been associated with depletion of the ozone layer, which causes climatic changes. For instance, there may be reduced levels of rainfall in the region and increased temperatures among others. In addition, trees have been known to act as water catchment facilitators. The Florida Everglades is facing heavy increase in population that calls for more room for settlement. In order to achieve this, land clearance has to be administered which, in turn, destroys homage to many birds and other organisms as well as alter the rainfall patterns. This has a remarkable effect on the patterns of existence of minute organisms and other animals. In addition, the activities also result in heavy pollution of the environment making it unsuitable even for humans. The Florida Everglades region has fresh-water swamps that provide home to many plant species with special adaptations to yearly floods, for example, cypress. They also provide home to numerous wildlife ranging from insects to large mammals. The swamps are notably known to be home to 15 species of reptiles and amphibians that are facing extinction threat (Exploring Life, 2000). In addition, these forested areas act as water collection points for man, control floods in the region, produce quality timber and other wood products while others act as recreational areas as they are used for fishing and watching birds. These ecosystems are special to Florida’s landscape. they must be well preserved so as to ensure that their long term environmental benefits are realized. References Exploring Life Science (2000): Dinosaurs – extinction. Marshall Cavendish. Moeller, D. W. (2005). Environmental health. Harvard University Press. National Research Council (U.S.). (2002). Committee on restoration of the greater Everglades ecosystem: Regional issues in aquifer storage and recovery for Evergladess restoration. National Academies Press. Pryor, K. B. (2005). The role of an environmental NGO in the landmark Florida Everglades restoration: An ethnography of environmental conflict resolution with many twists and turns. Variocity.