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  • Suzanne Reed

What is an ecosystem?

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

In the context of the natural environment, an ecosystem includes all of the living things (plants, animals, and organisms) in a given area, interacting with each other and with non-living influences, such as weather, sun, soil, water, climate, and atmosphere (credit to Ecosystems essentially function to maintain balance and sustain life. Even a slight disruption to one element can throw the entire ecosystem into chaos.

The human ecosystem combines nature's ecosystems with the built environment and the social characteristics, structures, and interactions among them in the area of interest.  Key aspects include the physical, biological, social, and engineered and built infrastructure, their interactions, and the feedbacks and controls that result within, or are imposed from outside, the ecosystem boundary (credit to Baltimore Ecosystem Study).

Residents, business, government, and organizations are elements of the Sacramento and Yolo County ecosystem. Many of us believe that our human ecosystem does not operate in balance, nor is it sustainable. Examples supporting our belief include lack of affordable housing, loss of agricultural lands in favor of development which threatens food security, and pay inequities that force people to hold more than one job just to pay the rent or put food on the table.

If we are to work together to slow the onset of climate change and reduce its impacts, we must first recognize that we are part of the ecosystem and that everything we do affects the environmental, economic, and social fabric of the Sacramento and Yolo County region.

Next, we must mobilize all sectors and their resources to create a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive ecosystem for ourselves and future generations. The graphic displayed here is a conceptual representation of a regional ecosystem working together to achieve a common goal of carbon neutrality. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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