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A dynamic balance between plants, animals, and the surrounding environment comprises an ecosystem. The impact of humans, as an integral part of most ecosystems, must be taken into account when managing the system’s health. For healthy functioning and sustainability, an ecosystem’s living members must be in balance with the non-living elements. 

Importance of Ecosystems

Ecosystems provide life-sustaining interactions for many plants and animals.  Humans also enjoy the system’s many benefits, such as:

  • Natural diversity of plant and animal life
  • Recreational space
  • Natural resource  accessibility

Future agricultural success depends on our ability to make use of Earth’s natural resources without permanently damaging or depleting them.  As a result of  increasing population demands and poor agriculture practices, natural and managed ecosystems face growing threats from:

  • Plant or animal diseases
  • Uncontrolled fires
  • Increased human activity

NIFA’s Impact

NIFA is committed to restoring the integrity of the nation’s ecosystems. Our programs seek to increase the public’s understanding that human well-being is linked to the sustainable use and management of ecosystems. We support innovative work to increase production, conservation, and restoration of farms, forests, rangeland, and all other ecosystems.

NIFA initiatives work to:

  • Advance natural resource and ecosystem sustainability through land management
  • Protect our natural systems through environmental conservation
  • Study and control invasive species to help prevent the degradation of crop and natural systems
  • Understand and predict changes in fire patterns, droughts, and floods to mitigate risk
  • Maintain natural diversity and ecosystem health by understanding and controlling plant and animal disease
  • Understand the impact of urban development on ecosystems
  • Discover the impact that climate change has on our ecosystems and how that impact could be limited
  • Appreciate the dynamic of all these issues across a landscape of managed and natural ecosystems

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