Understanding how a biophysical environment functions is an essential to understanding how human activities may impact that environment. The living and non-living features of an environment in which an organism lives is called the biophysical environment. This is the complex of biotic, climatic, and abiotic factors that act upon an organism and determine its form, survival, and how it adapts over time in the process. Ecosystems are parts of the biosphere and as a whole, they make up the biosphere. Ecosystems are made up of habitats in which organism live. Natural ecosystems have seen minimal effects of human activity while built environments are at the other end of this scale in which there is little biotic activity. Studies of the biophysical environments include atmospheric, marine or terrestrial and range from microscopic to global. Life forms adapt to specific environmental conditions such temperature, light, humidity, nutrients, all influence the species that can inhabit a particular environment. Living things also modify their environment conditions. Some are long term modifications, like increasing the oxygen content of the atmosphere while others are immediate and simple, like the effect that forest trees have building soils
In order to understand the character and extent of human impacts on the biophysical environment it is necessary to have a well defined understanding about how the natural systems function. This requires ecological monitoring conducted systematically over a long term. These environmental studies are the systematic study of interaction of humans with their environment. It is a broad field of study that includes the natural environment, built environments and social environments.
Each of the Yukon Envirothon sites have been selected because they represent a variety of biophysical impacts of a relatively small drainage basin. The tasks outlined within the envirothon ask you to conduct an analysis of some features of these linked ecosystems, used available resources to determine the long term character of the impacts and recommend remediation processes. that is ways which may allow natural systems to gain an equilibrium.
The physical character of human impacts
Human or anthropogenic environmental impacts affects the biophysical environments, biodiversity and other resources. Anthropogenic refers broadly to all major human impacts on the environment. such as pollution emissions that affect the atmosphere. Humans have made their presence felt on all global environments. On a broad scale the most notable of these include: agriculture, fishing, water use (irrigation, power generation, sewer treatment, etc.) transportation systems, urbanization, manufacturing, mineral/oil extraction, and deforestation.
The Yukon Envirothon explores a number of physical impacts on local environments. These are the types of impacts that can be photographed, mapped and traced historically. The effects of these may be monitored at the point of the impact and also, the down-stream effects of the impact may be monitored. These include such things as buildings, roads, dumps. redirecting streams, dumping, sewer outlets etc.
The biological character of human impacts
Human caused impacts that have degraded ecosystems are common and natural ecosystems are relatively rare. The impacts of human activity generally affect the biological parts of an environment. These are often first to experience these impacts. They cause changes in the composition and populations within a biological community. Biological impact assessments are undertaken to predict loss of genetic resources, habitats, ecosystems etc and to suggest mitigating measures to a proposed activity. Biological impact assessments are also done while a project is underway and at the end of the project period as a part of the restoration work.
The first step of a biological impact assessments is to collect base line data on plants, animals, fungi and microbes found in the area. This is done in two steps:
Based on the biological impact assessment a management plan is prepared which outlines the preventive and restorative measures for avoiding or reducing the impact of an activity. ( adapted from Biological Impact Assessment, B.K. Tiwari, Centre for Environmental Studies, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong -793022, India)
The Yukon Envirothon asks students to collect data and use historical information to formulate the outline of such a plan. Identify areas where no information has been collected and suggest the kinds of information that should be collected.
The term disjointed incrementalism refers to a process in which many activities are undertaken, sometimes simultaneously, without consideration of the impacts one activity may have on another or on the way the accumulative effects of al the projects taken in total may have in the surrounding environment. To what extent has the subject you the Yukon Envirothon focus topic suffered from term disjointed incrementalism?