What is ecological impact? Definition and examples
The Ecological Impact is the effect that something has on living beings, i.e., organisms, and their non-living environment. The term may refer to either the impact of human activities or natural events. When we study the ecological impact of something, we call it an Ecological Impact Assessment or EcIA.
Interdisciplinary collaboration in Ecological Impact Assessments integrates expertise from fields such as biology, sociology, and geology, providing a comprehensive understanding of potential environmental changes.
People assess the ecological impact of for example a volcanic eruption or a development proposal. In other words, we assess the impact of both natural events and human activities.
The OECD has the following definition of the term:
“Ecological impact is the effect of human activities and natural events on living organisms and their non—living environment.”
The OECD, or Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is an intergovernmental economic organization with 37-member nations. It aims to stimulate world trade and economic progress.
Many businesses today are adopting a management philosophy in which they aim to be profitable but with a lower ecological impact. We call that philosophy ‘eco-efficiency.’
Do not confuse the term with ‘ecological load.’ Ecological load refers to the demands and stresses that living organisms place on ecosystems. Humans, for example, demand food and water. Pollution is an example of stress.
Ecological indicators can give us an idea of the extent of our ecological impact.
An ecological indicator is an organism that gives us important data on our ecosystem. Some, for example, can warn about air pollution while others give us data on an ecosystem’s biodiversity.
Ecological Impact Assessment
Ecological Impact Assessment or EcIA is a process for identifying, evaluating, and quantifying the potential ecological impacts of defined actions. Specifically, their impact on ecosystems or their components.
EcIA is also a process for providing a scientifically defensible approach to the management of ecosystems.
Ecological experts implement EcIA each time they describe ecological features and assess their likely future condition.
The main purpose of an ecological impact assessment is to provide reliable information regarding the ecological implications of any policy or project. This includes any impact from a project’s inception, operation, and where appropriate, decommissioning.
Advancements in remote sensing technology have greatly enhanced the precision of Ecological Impact Assessments, enabling ecologists to monitor environmental changes more effectively.
There are many different interpretations of EcIA and what it involves. Therefore, ecological practitioners often spend too long discussing the merits of different methods. They do this at the cost of developing optimum ecological outcomes.
Regarding this problem, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand Inc. wrote:
“There are concerns that inconsistency across the profession leads to inappropriate decision-making and, as a consequence, poor biodiversity protection, and management.”
Ecological impact of explosives
The ecological impact of explosives are the effects that explosive have on the environment. The assessments cover the impacts of both unexploded explosives and post-explosion by by-products.
Contaminants from explosives can harm the environment as well as our health.
Humans have been using explosives for hundreds of years. We have used them in construction, demolition, mining, and warfare.
A significant proportion of water pollution comes from the explosives we make. Water pollution includes the contamination of lakes, groundwater, rivers, oceans and aquifers.
Ecological impact – secondary explosives
Of greatest concerns are secondary explosives. They have the greatest ecological impact because we have used them in the largest quantities. RDX, TNT, and HMX, for example, are secondary explosives.
Secondary explosives are not as sensitive as primary explosives. Primary explosives are very sensitive to heat, friction, impact, electromagnetic radiation, or static electricity.
To initiate secondary explosives, we need considerably more energy than with primary explosives.
As they are less sensitive, we can use secondary explosives in a wider variety of applications. They are safer to handle and store than primary explosives.
In their production, handling, loading, and disposal process, we unintentionally release explosives into the environment.
Soil and groundwater contamination
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, humans have produced millions of tons of explosives that have led to the accidental contamination of the soil and groundwater.
In the United States, for example, more than 1.2 million tons of soils have been contaminated with explosives in training grounds alone.
Wikipedia says the following regarding the ecological impact of explosives:
“Generally, explosives are dispersed mainly when used in combat. Most explosives are used as warfare agents by militaries globally. However, modern uses for 2,4,6-trinotrotoluene (TNT) are associated with construction and demolition, rather than combat.”
Because it is a common explosive in the demolition and construction industry, TNT has become the most widespread explosive. Therefore, its toxicity is the one we report on the most.
TNT soil contamination can reach 50 g kg-1 of soil. The highest concentrations are on or near the soil’s surface.
The EPA has declared the removal of TNT, a pollutant, as a priority. The EPA stands for the (United States) Environmental Protection Agency.
TNT levels in soil should never exceed 0.01 milligrams per liter of water and 17.2 gram per kg of soil.
Compound phrases with ‘ecological’
The term ‘ecological impact’ is a compound phrase. Compound phrases are terms that consists of two or more words. Here are some compound phrases which contain the word ecological (there are many of them):
The measure of human demand on Earth’s ecosystems.
For example: “Countries are increasingly aware of their ecological footprint and are seeking ways to reduce it through sustainable practices.”
The state of dynamic equilibrium within a community of organisms in which genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity remain relatively stable.
For example: “Preservation of wetlands is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance that supports a variety of wildlife.”
The variety of ecosystems within a geographical location and its overall impact on human existence and the environment. (An ecosystem is a community of living organisms interacting with their physical environment.)
For example: “The ecological diversity of the Amazon rainforest is unmatched, hosting thousands of species that can’t be found anywhere else.”
The capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a disruption or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly.
For example: “Coral reefs show ecological resilience as they can often regenerate even after being affected by bleaching.”
The role and position a species has in its environment; how it meets its needs for food and shelter, how it survives, and how it reproduces.
For example: “The ecological niche of bees as pollinators is vital for the reproduction of many flowering plants.”
The process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time.
For example: “After the forest fire, ecological succession began, gradually transforming the barren landscape back into a rich, biodiverse habitat.”
Video – What is Ecological Impact?
This interesting video, from our sister channel in YouTube – Marketing Business Network, explains what ‘Ecological Impact’ is using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.