Carrying Capacity of Environment and Ecosystems:
Carrying capacity of environment or an ecosystem is the threshold limit of use of that system without damaging the system. Every ecosystem has its resources that are used for economic development, for survival and for habitat creation. Environment and ecosystems have got the abilities to recover the loss of its resources by regenerating them over the period of time that are temporary and not exceeding the threshold damage limit.
Example of Carrying Capacity:
We can take the example of wildlife habitat to understand carrying capacity. For the sake of good understanding, please forget the impacts caused by humans on forests and wildlife resources. In a typical wildlife habitat, different species communities exists and live together which can be categorized into Producers and Consumers.
Plants, shrubs and grass species falls under producers because they can generate their own food by a process called photosynthesis. Consumers are those which depends on producers for their food. Lion, deer, tiger, bear, zebra, rat, fox and other animals falls into this category.
Now suppose if the number of producers decline over the period of time. It will affect the consumers who depend directly on producers and those who depend on other consumers for their food. What happens is the instability of the system and probably the extinction of some of species.
Though the ecosystem can recover the damage, but that is slow and time bound. But it can happen only if the rate of recovery is equal to the rate of damage. Once the rate of damage exceeds the rate of recovery, the ecosystem loses its power to recover. It is called carrying capacity.
The following video explains how humans need to live within the carrying capacity of earth for sustainable future and examples of how we can achieve our economic growth targets following sustainable development