Two kinds of ecosystem

The wild ecosystem is a complex adaptive system. It represents one of the higher levels of living systems, and it is incredibly complicated, particularly at the microscopic level. Having developed over hundreds of millions of years of macro-evolution (see 10.5), the wild ecosystem is a perfectly balanced system with highly effective self-organisation. This self-organisation provides resilience, stability, homeostasis, and all the other characteristics of a complex adaptive system.

Of necessity, the agro-ecosystem has considerable external control imposed on it by people. This control must be maintained at all times, and its importance is seen when a farm is abandoned. Abandoned cultivars quickly become extinct, and neglected farmers' fields soon revert to being a wild ecosystem. It may take several centuries for the original ecosystem to be restored, particularly if it was a climax forest. But self-restoration is obviously one of the many characteristics of a complex adaptive system, and it is an indication of the resilience of a wild ecosystem. It is also an indication of the fragility of an agro-ecosystem.

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