Degradation in the ecosystem can be brought about by two reasons: natural and man-made. Changes in the environment can be caused by natural events like a storm, flood, wildfire, earthquake and volcanic eruption. These natural calamities can drastically change the appearance of surrounding areas, and in some cases these changes are cataclysmic like the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia a few years ago, or hurricane Katrina which devastated New Orleans and Louisiana and wreaked havoc on the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. It took several months before restoration work were accomplished in these affected areas.
However, when people hear the term environmental degradation, they usually associate this with activities or actions by humans that caused unfavorable changes in the environment. As the industrialization age progressed and the population of the world have grown in several proportions, the need of natural resources have caused considerable damage to the environment which require considerable restoration work. Industries that thrived in several states, including Alabama, have caused pollutants to contaminate the air, land, water and other biological resources in the surroundings. Like anywhere else, Alabama has experienced a degradation of the ecosystem due to these actions by humans, either intentionally or unintentionally. What Alabama needs to restore this ecosystem back to original conditions is an effective environmental restoration campaign.
An environmental restoration program in Alabama would include repairing altered conditions in the ecosystem that includes a river corridor, wetlands, watershed and even industrial sites and mining areas. The program would include preventive measures that would protect and prevent the occurrence of pollutants that would cause damage to air, land, water, flora and fauna in both aquatic and land-based ecosystems. Environmental restoration in Alabama would include remediation programs to remove pollutants in affected areas through physical, chemical or biological means. Restoration work in Alabama can also include reclamation work, like programs initiated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which involve the reclamation of dry arid lands resulting from drought, converting or modifying these lands so they can be used for agricultural or habitation purposes.
In Alabama, most restoration work is focused on watersheds. A watershed refers to the land area surrounding a stream or river and feeds it water. Human activities performed in the vicinity or even inside the watershed itself can cause degradation in water resources. Different watersheds have various levels of degradation which can be measured by measurements and monitors performed on the quality of water draining from the watershed and into the water reservoir. The quality of water is being monitored by federal, state and local agencies which provide assessment as to what location in Alabama requires immediate restoration work. Efforts in this regard are not relegated to remedial work but can also be focused on preventative measures before pollution can set forth in a particular area. Major restoration work in Alabama watersheds have been successfully performed in the Sepulga River Watershed, located in south-central Alabama, and in Flint Creek Watershed located in Lawrence County.
Technological innovations in environmental restoration have been researched and developed by universities and other institutions. Educating the people in both the classroom and in the actual field can ensure success of these technologies in the preservation of the environment.
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