An ecosystem is a community of all living things (animals, microorganisms, people and plants) that interact with one another and their nonliving environment (atmosphere, climate, nutrients, soil, sun and water). Ecosystem services are defined as the benefits that people obtain from those ecosystems. Ultimately, human life is dependent on ecosystem services for the basics of life such as clean air, clean water and the production of food.
Ecosystems services are categorized into four broad categories --
- Supporting Services -- Nutrient Cycling, Soil Formation, Oxygen Production. This is the main category that underpins the other three
- Provisioning Services -- Food, Fresh Water, Fuel, Wood and Fiber
- Regulating Services -- Climate Regulation, Disease Regulation, Flood Regulation, Water Purification
- Cultural Services -- Aesthetic Value, Educational, Recreational, Spiritual
Ecosystem Services of the USDA Forest Service
The USDA Forest Service is a government agency that protects and overlooks the different national forests and grasslands that the United States Government has decided to protect from development. There are one hundred and fifty-five forests and twenty grasslands, so it is quite a big job.
There are several branches of the USDA forest service that help to complete this job, and they are the State and Private Forestry branch, the National Forest System, and the Research and Development branch.
USDA Forest Service History
The Forest Service first began in 1876 with Franklin B. Hough. He conducted the first forest research by visiting the nation’s forests. In 1881, the forest service was dubbed the “Division of Forestry.” In 1891, it became legal to withdraw land by the government for reserves upon which nothing could be built.
In 1901, the Division of Forestry was renamed the Bureau of Forestry, and in 1905, it became known as the USDA Forest Service. It has been discussed whether the forest service should be moved to the Department of Interior, along with the National Park Service and other land management agencies, but it has not been moved as of this time. In 1944, Smokey the Bear was first used to discourage people from causing forest fires, and his slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” is one of the most well known phrases in the United States.
USDA Forest Service Regions
In the United States, there are different designated forest districts to run forest management. The USDA Forest Service gives a district ranger to each district. Each district ranger (or rangers) is responsible for up keeping and protecting the forests in his or her area. This includes tasks such as controlling wildlife, building and maintaining park roads, overseeing campgrounds that might be in the park, controlling the grazing of animals on the property, managing vegetation, and ensuring no illegal activities are going on, such as forest fires or drug deals.
There is a forest research subdivision of the district rangers that studies the unique ecosystems, which occur naturally in the different forests and grasslands, to ensure that everything is being done to preserve them.
The forest service also must protect the areas that Congress has decided should not be cultivated in any way. The U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit of the forest service plays a big roll in enforcing these laws.
That is a little information about the USDA Forest Service and the ecosystem services it provides. It has been around for a long time, protecting and serving each national forest and the wildlife within, and it will continue to do so for a very long time. Its history has been long and varied, and the forest service does a great service to the United States and the world in general. Imagine what the U.S. would look like without any forests! It would be a very unbalanced country.