Battle For The Biosphere

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The Biosphere

The biosphere is the part of the Earth's surface inhabited by living livings

A Biome is a world scale ecosystem

There are 9 different biomes, and each has its own wildlife, mainly determined by climate

Altitude- How high above sea level

Latitude- how high or low above the equator

PolarLacking in water and heat (tundra and alpine)

Coniferous forest seasonally lacking in water

Temperate- some areas seasonally or permanently lacking in water and heat

Tropical- biomes [promote growth all year round

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Factors affecting precipitation and temperature

Temperature- Is the main factor affecting plant growth

Precipitation- happens at low pressure belts. Most rainfall is at the equator and mid latitudes such as the UK. Forest grows in both of these areas. 

Altitude- temperatures decrease by 1 degree celsius for every 100km in height

Continentality is the effect of distance from the sea and is also important

away from the sea, the land heats up in the hot season and cools quickly in the cold season, increasing annual temperature range. However, by the sea, the sea cools nearby land in the hot season, and warms it in the cold, reducing the annual temperature range

At the poles, there is high pressure, the sun's rays are less intense and are spread over a wider area, causing cooler temperatures

At the tropic of cancer and Capricorn and the equator, there is low pressure and intense sun rays. The high angled rays are over a small concentrated area, causing hotter temperatures

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Factors affecting precipitation and temperature

Ocean currents- Warm currents bring a warmer climate, cooler currents bring cooler climates.

Albedo-colour of the land- Dark colours (sea) warm up quicker, but light colours (ice) reflects the sun's rays

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Coniferous Forest

Yakutsk, Russia/Northern Canada

Northern Hemisphere 50-70 degrees north

Mild summers, bitterly cold winters, sub-arctic

Largest temperature range of any climate on earth

Total annual precipitation is fairly small (500mm per year)

Conifers, Evergreen, spruces and pines which bear needles all year


High pressure and low rainfall

winter days short

sun not concentrated

removed from any moderating influence of an ocean

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Tropical Rainforest

Iquitos Peru, equator, backed by mountains

Year round warm temperature and heavy rainfall

Annual temperature range rarely exceeds 3-4 degrees fahrenheit

High constant temperatures of 20-30 degrees Celsius

2000mm rainfall per year

50% of moisture in the amazon in self-circulating

Rain forests have the most types of trees in the world, 70% vegetation


Low pressure and rainfall

strong sun all year

transpiration generates 50% of own rain

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The value of the biosphere

  • The rain forest regulates the composition of the atmosphere, as it uses photosynthesis to exchange carbon dioxide into oxygen, purifying the air
  • It maintains the health of the soil by intercepting precipitation, reducing soil erosion. It also prevents flash flooding

Goods of the Rain forest

Timber, fuel wood, food, crops, irrigation water, rubber, genetic resources (gene pool)

Services of the Rain forest

Maintaining biodiversity, nutrient cycling, climatic regulation, provides employment, recreation use e.g snorkeling

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Delivering the goods

The main problem of biomes is that different people want to use the same biome in various ways. However, if over-exploited or over-harvested, the usage is not sustainable. 

For indigenous people in the tropical rain forest, the biome supplies them with everything they need, for example fuel-wood, timber, herbs for medicine, food and meat. They can grow subsistence crops using the sustainable slash and burn method. This way, they do not over-cultivate the land, as the patch is only used until the soil is exhausted, and then the plot is recovered.

Rival commercial users can destroy the rain forest for short-term gain. TNCs exploit the forest by de-foresting for commercial goods such as rubber, cocoa etc. Drug companies search the forest  for plants to provide new medicines. Governments might want to produce hydroelectric power from the forest.

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Humans impacting the biosphere


  • The world's largest rainforest and 70% of Africa's plant cover
  • Africa contributes to 50% of the world's de-forestation

What is threatening the tropical rain forest in the Congo basin?

1) subsistence agriculture

  • sustainable slash and burn method is commonly used by poor farmers and villagers relying on the land
  • An increase in forest population as people flee from civil unrest, and therefore rely on the resources of the forest, leading to de-forestation.

2) Logging

  • 2004, encouraged by the world bank, the DR Congo announced its plans to step up the commercial logging of its rain forest
  • The local people rarely know the worth of their land and are cheated out of money.
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Humans impacting the biosphere

  • Villagers were promised development of local buildings such as schools.
  • It is also difficult to monitor exactly where the loggers have cut down trees. The checkers are only aided with bicycles as transport, and are not allowed to see records of logging.


  • The Congo basin has rich mineral deposits
  • oil, iron, copper, diamonds and gold
  • Mining is poorly monitored and virtually no consideration is given to environmental impacts

DIRECT IMPACTS- deforestation, pollution, natural resources

INDIRECT IMPACTS- infrastructure, development, opens up area for poaching

4) Bush meat trade

  • Any hunted meat from the rain forest
  • More land for poaching has opened up due to de-forestation.
  • Keystone species- is one which has a particularly large effect on other living organisms.
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Mountain Gorillas

The Congo Basin

They are very important as they disperse billions of seeds which have higher germination and seed survival

The DR Congo has had the highest rise in bushmeat trade

They are hunted for bushmeat and trophies

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Conservation of Biomes - what can be done?

1): WWF- NGO

Gorillas have been a flagship species for 50 years

  • Funding anti-poaching patrols
  • Increasing support for Gorilla conservation
  • protect other species around the gorilla
  • stopping illegal trade of gorilla products


  • local villages and conservation groups work together to protect a wide variety of species and the pristine forests.

3)Controlling illegal logging

  • Timber products from the DRC that are sold in the EU must carry a license showing a legal origin, expected to be finalised by 2013


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Conservation of Biomes - what can be done?


  • convention on International trade in endangered species, singed in 1973, 166 countries. The aim is to stop trade in products such as elephant ivory etc
  • They are very difficult to manage as there are many conflicting interests

5) Sustainable management

Future- many of the solutions are ,long term, such as the zoning for tourism and conservation

Locals-They can make a living du to eco-tourism or farming in the buffer zone

Educate- people are taught about the importance of conservation and sustainable development

Environmentally friendly-  It avoids clear cutting and destroying the forest. Trees are left to protect watersheds.

Make a living- People can farm inn the buffer zone on rotational basis. They can also earn money from additional tourism

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