Environmental Resources Worksheet
Metallic minerals are those which give new products on melting, for example iron and manganese while non-metallic minerals such as coal and salt do not give new products on melting. Iron is extracted from ores and used in the construction industry and making of tools. Manganese is used in making steel. Coal is used as a source of energy while salt is used to season and preserve food.
Minerals may be extracted through open pit mining or through shaft mine for minerals that occur on the earth’s surface and those that are found under the earth’s surface respectively. After extraction, crude ores are crushed in order to separate waste rock and valuable components. The crushed mixture is concentrated to separate minerals from other waste substances.
Minerals can be mined through surface mining, underground mining and in-situ leaching. Surface mining techniques such as open-pit mining involves removal of vegetation and other materials that lie above mineral deposits. Underground mining techniques such as subsurface mining involve creating vertical or horizontal tunnels to reach the minerals below the surface. In-situ leaching is applied in soluble minerals.
Surface mining damages the natural flora and fauna of the environment in the mining area. Extraction of minerals such as crude oil results in chemical waste products which if not disposed correctly may contaminate water and land resources. Mining also damages the aesthetic appeal of the environment by leaving large holes on the ground which is an eyesore.
Soil can be defined as a mixture of humus and small rock particles. Soil is composed of minerals, organic matter, air and water. Soil is important to the environment because it determines growth of plants which in turn sustain animals.
Different microorganisms can be found in the soil ranging from microscopic organisms to burrowing animals. Microscopic organisms include bacteria, fungi, algae, viruses, protozoa, nematodes and others. Large organisms include ants, earthworms, mole crickets, mites, slugs and others. Soil organisms help in decomposition of organic matter and enhancing soil aeration. In turn, they are provided with shelter from physical hazards as well as a source of food and nutrients.
Soil erosion refers to the carrying away of the top layer of soil by agents such as wind and water or ice. Soil can become polluted when chemical contaminants find their way in the soil and change its alkalinity. This affects the growth of plants and existence of microorganisms. Soil erosion leads to siltation of rivers and lakes making them shallow and endangering marine life. Soil pollution reduces plant and animal life on the particular area.
Soil reclamation is important in converting waste land such as neglect mines to productive land through restoring its ecological integrity.
Forestry and Rangeland Resources and Management Strategies
Public land refers to the land owned by the federal government and which is subject to disposal or sale to the general public or entities. On the other hand, government-owned land refers to land owned by the federal government and which cannot be disposed. Government agencies involved include Department of the Interior (National Park service, Bureau of Land Management, and United States Fish and Wildlife Service), Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Valley Authority and U.S. Department of Defense. Government-owned lands are used in preservation and recreation of natural resources.
Forests provide natural habitat to a wide variety of animals, act as watersheds and modify local climates.
Forest management can be defined as the careful planning of forests and forest resources to ensure sustainability. The purpose of forest management is to ensure that forest resources are optimally used to ensure sustainability for future generations. Sustainable forestry involves careful regulation of forest resources through activities such as replanting trees, preventing fire, cutting roads and planned timber extraction.
Harvesting trees and deforestation leads to loss of habitats which is home to millions of wildlife species. Deforestation also contributes to climate change and soil erosion. Shelterwood harvesting is the preferred method of harvesting trees. This involves removing the mature trees and leaving the young trees to flourish. This method has the least impact on the forest habitat.
Related Paper:Balancing Ecosystems
Rangelands can be defined as grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and shrublands that are suitable for livestock grazing or as wildlife habitat. Rangeland degradation refers to a human-induced or natural process which results to low productivity of rangelands in terms of supporting livestock or wild animals. Desertification results when degradation is progressive and desert-like conditions appear on the formerly productive rangeland. Degradation and desertification reduces the ability of a natural habitat to support organisms, threatening their survival and driving others out of the area.
Overgrazing refers to keeping of more livestock and for long periods in an area than it can support, leading to loss of vegetation. Overgrazing increases competition for pastures causing some species to move out and threatening the existence of others.
Common strategies used in the managing and conserving forests and rangelands include reforestation and afforestation, establishment of wildlife management areas, controlled burn, selective logging and controlled grazing.
Industrialized agriculture refers to mechanized production of crops, livestock, fish and poultry on a large scale while subsistence agriculture involves production of crops and livestock on a small scale and with little mechanization. Mechanized agriculture leads to soil degradation due to heavy use of chemicals. Subsistence agriculture reduces soil fertility due to poor farming practices such as planting of the same crops over a long period.
The society currently faces a challenge in the emergence of new pests and diseases which kill animals and affect crop yield. Currently, new pests and diseases which affect plants and animals have led to great losses in areas which have been hit.
Sustainable agriculture can be described as application of livestock and crop production methods that have least negative impacts on the environment or the community. It ensures environmental preservation by preventing harmful impacts such as soil pollution. Genetic engineering helps develop plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. It also helps in improving plant and animal yields. On the flip side, genetic engineering can lead to loss of original species of plants and animals. In addition, genetic engineering may produce new species of plants or animals which may become dominant species and eliminate indigenous species.