“Trees do not force their sap, nor does the flower push its bloom.” -Ranier Maria Rilke
Our planet is blanketed with the beauty and biodiversity of five major biomes, large, naturally occurring communities of plants and animals that occupy a broad geographic area. The five major biomes include the tundra, desert, forests, grassland, and aquatic. Within each of these major biomes we can classify these ecological communities into smaller, distinct categories. For example, forests can be classified as temperate or tropical. Aquatic biomes are classified as freshwater or marine (saltwater). The Earth’s distinct biomes are shaped by the interactions of various abiotic conditions with the biotic populations of the geographic area. Abiotic factors are the non-living, physical and chemical conditions of a natural system and include temperature, water (precipitation, humidity, salinity, tides and currents), dissolved gases, sunlight, atmosphere (wind), pollution, pH, soil, nutrients, topography (altitude, aspect), and geography, specifically latitude, as areas of similar latitude globally have similar biomes. Biotic factors include all living organisms and their relationships – producers, like plants or algae; consumers, animals that eat producers and other animals; scavengers, animals that eat carrion, dead plant material, or garbage; and decomposers, fungi and microscopic organisms that breakdown dead and decaying matter and re-cycle nutrients to the system. The interactions of these living organisms with their environment and with each other move matter and energy, creating the uniquely diverse, dynamic ecosystems of our planet. Healthy ecosystems maintain an equilibrium and can efficiently recover from disturbances and perturbations. They are strong and resilient. As a result of their well-balanced, vigorous productivity, ecosystems provide a multitude of benefits to humans.
These ecosystem services, or natural resources gifted by the environment, are divided into four broad categories. The four categories are provisioning, food, water, fuel, medicine, fiber, and genetic diversity; regulating, climate regulation, water and air quality, pollination, erosion and flood control, decomposition, and carbon sequestration, or storage; supporting, photosynthesis, or primary production, water and nutrient cycling, formation of soils, and oxygen production; and cultural, recreational activities, spiritual connection, creative inspiration, cultural heritage and ethnobotany, and aesthetics. These gifts are the derivatives of nature’s prolific function. As humans, it is imperative to our health and well-being that we acknowledge the source of nature’s gifts and honor the intrinsic importance of Earth’s systems.
Looking deep into our own entity, we unearth the source and significance of our individual, innate resources. Digging deep with questions and journaling our thoughts connects us more intently to ourselves, revealing pattern and purpose. What brings me joy? What are my strengths? What did I love as a child? How do people that know me best describe what excites me? What do my music and book collection reveal about me and my interests? As in natural systems, our innate gifts are derivatives of our abundant, authentic self. As we acknowledge our elemental power and share our unique gifts, we connect more intentionally and deeply with others creating an interconnected support system resilient in times of turmoil. In embracing our own essence, we stand grounded and grateful, balanced and beautiful, creative and content as we freely share our intuitive gifts through our authentic power.