Coastal Forests and Woodlands Essay

  • Length: 14 pages
  • Sources: 13
  • Subject: Communication (general)
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #28600315

Excerpt from Essay :

Trees cover nothing less than one-third of the earth's surface, and it is estimated that around 3 trillion trees exist worldwide. Forests are found in different climates and locations, they exist in wet, dry, sweltering and bitterly climates. Each of these forests types have the natural peculiarities that allow them to develop in their respective climate (Motivans). Unfortunately, in the past few decades, there has been an enormous level of commercial activities that have subjected forests all over the world to a dire consequential threat with adverse felt by most of the woodlands around the world. Deforestation, road and building constructions form a major part of human threats on the woodlands. Adding to the human activities is the climate change, which has been very devastating on many of the species that inhabit these forests. The threats on their inhabitants are a direct danger of extinction to these woodlands, as what makes them thrive in the first place are their natural inhabitants. There is a need to increase the awareness level of the importance of trees in society. This paper explores different forests that exist in the world, with primary focus on one of the coastal forests and woodlands in different regions and continents.

The benefits of trees to our environment cannot be overemphasized. The ecosystem preservation depends mainly on the existence of trees and forests, and any society that truly cherishes the beauty of nature and values the serene, atmospheric pleasure which trees provide, will with a high degree of interest, take forest preservation as a topmost priority. Trees, among other things, serve as habitat for mammals, birds, and insects; trees soak up and store carbon; they are very helpful in flood prevention. In addition, they play a significant role in regulating regional climate. They also conserve water and soil regionally and globally. In addition to these, they are a significant source of natural beauty, which makes them fascinating to behold. Forest trees have been very helpful to the ecosystem and the inhabitants within the woodlands.

Forests are of different types, varying characteristics, and are called different names based on the features that characterize each of them, and sometimes, the locations where they are found. Notable amongst forest types are coastal forests and woodlands. Coastal forests and woodlands “occur in shelter areas along the coast, such as behind dunes and on coast away from the ocean, and behind Maritime Forests (“Coastal Forest/Woodland”). Just as every other form of forest, coastal forests and woodlands have their characteristics. They are known for their medley of vegetation which includes which include evergreen forest, scrub forest, Brachystegia woodland, scrub forest and dry forest. During summers, the coastal forests and woodlands are usually hot and dry, and are known to be cool and moist in winters, these are months which most precipitation in these forests arrive. The geography of these forests includes the Mediterranean, south-central and southwestern Australia, the Chilean matorral, Mediterranean ecoregions, and the fynbos of southern Africa, are the regions where they can be found (“Mediterranean Forests”). They are known for their array of species which include white pan forest and oak hemlock. These forest types are natural habitat for associated fauna, and this allows virtually all kinds of animals to thrive there.

Similarities between Coastal Forests and Woodlands

Although, in different locations that are thousands of miles apart in most cases, the coastal forests and woodlands, however, have a lot of things in common. Looking at the ones found in Southern Africa, North California, and all the way to Alaska, and every other part of the world where they exist, many glaring similarities can be drawn. Southern African coastal forests and woodlands, for instance, are found on the shore of the Southern part of the African continent. One of them is the South Africa Eastern shore, which is known as KwaZulu-Cape Coastal Forest Mosaic, it is a mix of forest intermingled by thorveld and runs along the eastern coast of South Africa. It embodies the distribution for tropical faunas and florals in African continent (“Southern Africa Eastern Shore”). Another coastal forest in the region is The Mozambican Coastal Zone, which extends over 2 700 km. Lecturer, Forestry Department). The ecoregion is known for its array of ecosystems, both in terrestrial and marine. It is made up a vast plain that represents 44% of the South African country, and the remainder of it (43% and 13%), being plateau and Montana regions respectively (João. 1). The Northern California Forests ecorigion, United States of America, is a part of the coast of temperate rainforest in the Washington and Oregon coasts. It is known to have some of the tallest, biggest and oldest trees in the world. Many of the trees in this ecoregion have been existing for over 2000 years, and some of them are over 300 feet in height. Also, in the United States of America is Alaska coastal forests ecoregion. () The Southeastern Alaska coastal forest is located along Alaska’s panhandle between the Canadian Border and Yakutat Bay. It embodies over 1,000 islands and over 18,000 mi (30,000 km) of marine shoreline. A larger part of the region contains an exceptional assemblage of a coastal watershed that plays a vital role in the preservation of the fish and other species in the ecoregion (Schoen & Dovichin).

The coastal forests in South Africa, Northern California all the way till Alaska are called coastal forests based on the similar features that exist between these different ecoregions which are thousands of miles distance from one another. Some of the similarities include the height of the trees, the climate, and their habitats. For instance, while the heights of trees in coastal forests varies, they are known to usually taller than those in Maritime Forests, and not as tall as the ones found on further inland. They are also known to be habitat for associated fauna, which makes it habitable for any species of animal. Also, Coastal forests and woodlands are similarly found in sheltered areas along the coast, they can be found on slope shores away from oceans, behind the dunes, and sometimes behind Maritime Forest. Their climate is different from the inland area, as they are warmer during winters, cooler during summer, and have moisture, when compared to the inland area (“Coastal Forest/Woodland”).

Differences between Coastal Forests and Woodlands

Despite being similar in many areas, these forest ecoregions have their unique features which distinctly distinguish them. For instance, the South Africa coastal forest ecoregions have plants that are not commonly found in other coastal woodlands. For instance, the Tongaland-Pondoland ecoregion has three related species that are confined within the Mosaic region; they are Atalaya, Alberta, and Protorhus. Also, Cassine spp. and Eugena spp. are some other species, which though, are found in many other regions in Africa, but are highly concentrated in this ecoregion. In addition to this, in South African coastal forests, there seem to be a larger proportion of higher latitudes species. Some of these species are Dahlgrenodendron natalensis, Rhynchocalyx lawsonioides and Rinorea dematiosa. In the north Pacific, however, coastal Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis)-hemlock (Tsuga spp) is the predominant forest type in the region. Also, old-growth forests, in particular, are critically important fish and wildlife habitat and are characterized by unique structural attributes (e.g., multi-layered canopies, diverse forb and shrub layers, coarse-woody debris, large diameter trees). Notable also among its distinguishing features of South African forests and woodland ecoregions are also highly abundant in mammalian species, having around 40 Insectivores represented, among which are 23 bat species. The Lagomorpha (hares and rabbits) and Rodentia are as well represented mainly in the region. Less represented in the Tongaland-Pondoland ecoregion are Ungulates and Primates, with these creatures having just three and nine species respectively. Carnivores are notably represented having around 22 species. The thick-tailed bushbaby (Galago crassicaudatus) and Samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis) are other mammals habiting the ecoregion. The leopard, caracal, the black-back jackal are some other animals here. Also, primarily confined…

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…the region. Apart from the timbers, other inhabitants facing human threats in this region are the fishes. There have been unregulated fishing activities going on in the region. The lack of proper monitoring of fishing activities there has allowed many fishermen, both from within the local areas, and from other countries, and continents, to engage in overfishing which poses a severe threat to the existence of fish in the ecoregion. The human commercial agricultural activities are not the only threats facing the coastal forest in the region, it has also been burning the brunt of global climate change. For instance, torrential and unpredictable rainfalls, tenacious drought, and other extreme and devastating weather conditions have been ravaging some parts of the regions including Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania. The effects of the climate change which is usually followed by flooding, dearth, loss of agricultural yields, cyclones, and coastal erosion, has made surviving here more difficult for both plant and animals in the forest. With the prediction of worse weather conditions ahead, it must be noted that more threats await these already imperiled inhabitants of the region (“Coastal East Africa).

The threats are not limited to East Africa coastal forests, other coastal forests in the world also face threats. The Northeastern coastal forests, for instance, faces habitat loss from Suburban sprawl. This, according to (“Northern Coastal Forest”), has led to the loss of more than 98% of the ecoregion’s natural habitat. The greatest threat to this particular ecoregion is development, which is capable of substantially altering 25 per cent of species left in the region in the next two decades. Additionally, Shoreline erosion, the introduction of exotics, and overuse of natural resources are also leading to high rate mortality of native plants in the ecoregion. The Northern Pacific coastal forests are not left out in the threats as many species are threatened in the ecoregion as well. According to (“Northern Pacific Coastal”), loses to old growth are taking place in some of the most productive forested ecosystem remaining in the ecoregion, about 10% of high-volume old growth that are left in Tongass National Forest have been slated for harvest. Also, in the next century, up to 70% of the of the total old growth in some ecological provinces such as Prince of Wales Island northern and southern provinces, will be lost to extensive road construction and logging. In addition to this, the high level of logging projected to take place in the ecoregion will contribute mainly to significant loss of several species including northern Alexander Archipelago wolf, marten northern flying squirrel, brown bear, and other neotropical and resident birds. Species like rippan fringes and rich estuarine are also predicted to be significantly lost.

From East African to American regions, the above-highlighted perils are different types of regular threats on coastal forests and woodlands, it is believed that if there are no adequate measures to check human activities on these ecoregions, and as well contain the effects of climate change that have been mostly responsible for the fierce weather conditions in recent times, many species remaining on these forests would be lost. Loss of these habitats is a major threat to the survival of these coastal forests and woodlands.

Conclusion

It is of the utmost importance that the world rises to the rescue of the ecoregions and species therein. Preservation of these natural endowments that predominantly contribute to the maintenance of healthy ecosystems in the world is a worthy endeavor for every member of human race. Improving the state of woodlands and their contribution to human well-being is a crucial and urgent task (Hassan, et al. 614). It will be a devastating experience for mankind if the forests are lost to human encroachment and unregulated agricultural and commercial activities as they are currently being experienced. The world is yet to fully experience and harness the potentials that are embedded within this natural beauty. Giving them the needed treatments will be of a global advantage which cannot be quantified.…

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