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All economic activities, businesses and corporations have an impact on ecosystems and biodiversity. They also depend on ecosystem services as well; an example is the biotechnology industry which benefits from access to genetic material but at the same time create risks through the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the ecosystem.
Other businesses and industries which benefit from ecosystem services are agribusiness and food sector businesses which rely on the services of ecosystem like pollination. Through land impacts and use of water resources, various industries deplete ecosystems of their resources; businesses which deplete ecosystem resources include lumbering factories, construction and publishing industries among others.
These businesses can similarly change forest structures and balance at the expense of wildlife. On the other hand tourism industry obtains its profit from cultural services and aesthetic values of natural landscapes.
It is very difficult to imagine of any business that does not make use of an ecosystem, this is because at one point or another they may have direct impact on nature; this may be through their central operations, supply chain, or lending and investment options.
Businesses can help to reduce pressure on ecosystem services through managing and mitigating their impact on ecosystem and biodiversity services by reviewing their operations periodically. To appreciate the impacts of biodiversity and ecological services, companies should evaluate and determine how they impact and depend on biodiversity and ecological services.
Definition of Biodiversity and Ecosystem
Biodiversity is viewed as the unevenness displayed among organisms and plants. An ecosystem is a main component of biodiversity and is defined as a dynamic composition of plants and organisms which operate as one. Examples of ecosystems are wetlands, rain forests, grass lands and urban parks.
Ecosystem services on the other hand are defined as the benefits that human beings obtain from ecosystems; ecosystem services are synonymous with environmental services. Ecosystem services can be grouped into four categories:
Provisioning: this includes the goods and services that are obtained from an ecosystem like food, fresh water and timber.
Regulating: these are the advantages that are accrued when an ecosystem is well managed.
Cultural: these are non-material benefits that are obtained form the ecosystem; examples are recreation and spiritual values.
Supporting: these are the natural processes that can maintain other ecosystem services; they include nutrient cycling and primary production. Biodiversity are inextricably linked with biodiversity (Bishop, 2010).
How Corporations Rely on Ecosystem
A business organization will rely on an ecosystem if the services that such an ecosystem offers can be used as raw materials or form part of the raw materials in the production process of such an organization (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2011).
Several businesses rely on ecosystem services in their operations. Fresh water is one of the ecosystem services that no business can operate without; other business sectors that highly depend on biodiversity and ecosystem services are energy sector or electricity, oil and gas, mining, food, beverage and tobacco and construction.
The reliance of a business or corporation on ecosystem services depends on the location of a business, the source of its materials and the technology employed (Costanza, D’Arge, Groot, Farber, Grasso, Hannon, Limburg, Naeem, O’Neill, Paruelo, Robert, Raskin, Sutton & Belt, 1997).
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Case Study: Syngenta Company
Syngenta Company falls in the agricultural sector and experiences a dilemma on how to utilize ecosystem services and at the same time how to conserve it. Syngenta is inventing a program that can enhance productivity through reversing the decline of ecosystem services important to agricultural activities and this is pollination.
The significance of pollination is unmatched since several industries utilize it; these industries are vegetable farming, water melon and blue berries cultivation. Syngenta launched operation pollinator in the year 2009 and it was implemented in thirteen European countries. This project was aimed at restoring native pollinators in agricultural lands through the creation of suitable habitats close to farmlands.
It involves the growth of flora plant margin; this increases plant diversity and the native pollinator population hence delivering fundamental benefits with the potential to raise farm profits (Bishop, 2010). This idea of Syngenta has been operationalized by the blue berry industry in USA. Its economic value, as witnessed in Michigan is massive.
The blue berry companies relies on bees for pollination to realize maximum yields and with the diminishing bees population, other crop pollination strategies are required to enhance productivity.
Consequences of Loss of Ecosystem Services to an Organization
There are three reasons that are advanced for the loss of an ecosystem, these are: ignorance, market and institutional failure. The world is witnessing the decline of pollinators; this decline is as a result of wanton clearing of habitat and use of pesticides. After the decline, people opted for honey bees to replace native pollinators. These honey bees have been threatened by parasites and diseases (Cork, n.d.).
The loss of ecosystem services like fresh water and climate change has the capacity to compromise investments and business operations. Loss of ecosystem services will also lead to decline in value of company assets due to decline in company production. There is also the realization by investors that loss in ecosystem may lead to collapse or disappearance of a company from the market (Grigg, n.d.).
Consequences of Reducing Ecosystems Capacity to the Organization
Businesses support the reduction of ecosystem services because these reductions will provide opportunities for businesses to prosper. In the case study of Syngenta, reduction of pollination will diminish productivity of Blue berry in Michigan.
Since several components of ecosystems are privately owned, reduction in ecosystem services will lead to alteration of prices prompted by the scarcity of materials manufactured by use of ecosystem services thus it is evident that ecosystem services are intertwined with the operations of companies.
Since Syngenta Company relies on ecosystem services it will suffer from declining ecosystem services; this also applies to the companies with agricultural-based supply chains (Cork, n.d.).
Ecosystem debate is a critical one; this is because virtually every business sector relies on ecosystem services in one way or another. Some of the examples are: the pharmaceutical industry utilizes genetic resources, agriculture and food sector utilizes nature’s pollination and erosion, construction and communication sector utilize timber resources.
Therefore, companies should be ready and willing to anticipate the fact that ecosystems will be incorporated into public policies because of their necessity. It is evident also that there is limited public knowledge and awareness about ecosystems and their significance.
There is a need for government to take initiatives to ensure that businesses and ecosystems coexist amicably without one affecting the other. This can be accomplished by the policies being set up which give guidance on ecosystem protection which in turn will benefit all the stakeholders.
Bishop, J. (2010). The economics of ecosystem and biodiversity. Web.
Cork, S. (n.d.) Ecosystem services: The many ways in which Biodiversity sustains and fulfills human life. Web.
Costanza, R, D’Arge, R, Groot, R, Farber, S, Grasso, M, Hannon, B,Limburg, K, Naeem, S, O’Neill, R, Paruelo, J, Robert G. Raskin, R, Sutton, P & Belt, M. (1997). The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. New York, NY: Cengage.
Grigg, A. (n.d.). Dependency and impact on ecosystem services-unmanaged risk, unrealized opportunity. Web.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development. (2011). Ecosystems; Executive brief. Web.