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Transcript of Habitat Destruction
What are the Causes of Habitat Destruction?
We humans are a major cause of habitat destruction. While animal populations do not usually rise sharply, the number of human beings on our planet has risen steeply in the last few centuries. This huge increase is putting pressure on natural resources. Our needs are growing, and these needs are often causing habitat destruction. Here are some major causes of habitat destruction:
What is Habitat Destruction?
Habitat - is the natural home for an animal or
Habitat destruction - is when an animal or plant
loses its natural home, usually caused
by something humans have done. If an
animal’s habitat gets destroyed, it
might die out. If this happens, it can
affect all animals above it on the food
Impacts on organisms
In the simplest term, when a habitat is destroyed, the plants, animals, and other organisms that occupied the habitat have a reduced carrying capacity so that populations decline and extinction becomes more likely.
Habitat destruction through natural processes such as volcanism, fire, and climate change is well documented in the fossil record. One study shows that habitat fragmentation of tropical rainforests in Euramerica 300 million years ago led to a great loss of amphibian diversity, but simultaneously the drier climate spurred on a burst of diversity among reptiles.
Wild lands are being cleared for crops and domestic animals. The single biggest cause of deforestation is farming. Animals used to living in a biodiverse habitat cannot survive in an area with one crop.
Habitat destruction - is one of the main threats to biodiversity. Biodiversity refers to the various kinds of plants and animals that live in a particular area. Arctic communities have less biodiversity because of the very few species of animals that live there. Tropical forests, however, have thousands of different animal and plant species, making them the most biodiverse areas on earth. Ecologists use biodiversity as a way of measuring how habitats are affected by land use.
Building Roads and Cities
Humans are clearing trees and wild lands to make room for roads and cities. Cities replace the natural habitat of many species of plants and animals. Highways and freeways can destroy plants and also keep animals from safely traveling through their natural habitat.
Forest fires destroy or damage between 15 and 36 million acres of tropical forest every year. Sometimes the fires are started on purpose as a way to illegally clear an area of trees.
Effects of Habitat Destruction
Pollination and Seed Dispersal
Both wild and agricultural plants depend on pollination for reproduction. Fruits and vegetables, key components of the human diet, depend on bees and other insects to transfer pollen from flower to flower. When habitat destruction reduces the varieties of these pollinators, crop yields drop as well.
Biodiversity affects climate mainly through regulation of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Destruction of forest habitats reduces the capacity of forests to absorb carbon dioxide. The growth rate and woodiness of a plant determines the rate of carbon turnover within it. Landscape patterns are also important since carbon sequestration is reduced at the edges of forest fragments. Marine ecosystems also play a significant role in carbon sequestration.
Pest and Disease Control
Pests often target specific types of plants. When habitats are destroyed and plant diversity is reduced, the environment contains more of a particular type of plant. This makes it easier for pests to spread. Plant diversity provides habitats for a greater variety of insects and other animals and for the natural enemies of pests.
The production of food,clothing and shelter for humans depends in many indirect ways on the biodiversity of ecosystems. A high diversity of agricultural crops protects farmers against crop failures. Destruction of habitats and reduction of species diversity can make ecosystems more vulnerable to invasive species and indirectly affect human health and well-being.
Where is it Happening?
Habitat destruction is happening all over the world and closer to your home than you might think. Tropical rain forests in Central and South America and in Southeast Asia and Oceania are being threatened. Rainforests now occupy less then ½ of the land that they did 100 years ago (that’s less than 2% of the earth’s surface).
O B J E C T I V E S:
To involved in local conservation efforts.
To participate in conservation projects at school or in clubs.
To support environmental groups that campaign for local areas and areas
around the world.
To support programs and websites that allow you to adopt an animal that is
endangered by habitat destruction.
Your family can become responsible shoppers. If your family buys tropical wood products, make sure that they come from a supplier that doesn’t harm the rain forests. Those products are often labeled FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Getting the word out about habitat destruction is not difficult at all. You simply have to read a few books, watch some good documentaries about the subject, read blogs like this one, and then tell other people what you know. Of course, educational institutions like high schools and colleges should also incorporate ecological education. Just remember that there are far more avenues of education than you might think; even posting something on your Facebook wall about habitat destruction will likely educate a few of your friends.
2. Slowing Human Population Growth Ethically
Family planning centers, access to birth control, and the availability of abortions can lower the birth rate of a region. The fewer people that there are in an area means less land must be used to feed and house them. For these reasons, it is important for governments to support family planning. Also, increasing the quality of living of a region often has a parallel decrease in the birth rate. This means people will have to help the poorest regions become wealthier if we want to slow the exponential growth of the human population.
3. Habitat Conservation
Just because a habitat is almost entirely destroyed doesn't mean the rest can't be salvaged. Conservation can take place just about anywhere. By preserving what is left we draw the line that can't be crossed; over long periods of time, habitats which have been destroyed will grow again and regain a vital complexity nearing or even exceeding its pre-destruction natural grandeur.
4. Increasing Agricultural Efficiency Sustainably
By investing in agricultural technologies and increasing outputs on farms in a sustainable manner, it becomes less necessary for habitats to be destroyed to make room for more farms. To accomplish this will require large amounts of government and corporate investment; this can be stimulated by stressing the social and economic potentials that exist in sustainable and efficient agriculture.
5. Simple Things You Can Do to Help
Every little bit helps, so whenever you find a way to conserve energy and resources, you are putting less pressure on other people to destroy habitats in order to harvest more energy and resources. For instance, by planting a garden and feeding yourself and those near you, you can partially mitigate the necessity for large scale corporate farms. This is because you won't be buying as much food from these farms. Instead, delicious fresh foods will be growing in your own yard, waiting to be picked!
“Habitat gives us an opportunity which is very difficult to find: to reach out and work side by side with those who never have had a decent home—but work with them on a completely equal basis. It’s not a big-shot, little-shot relationship. It’s a sense of equality."
-- Jimmy Carter
People are cutting down the forests and rain forests for wood and wood products.
Usually, only large prime trees are cut down, such as mahogany. However, smaller trees can be destroyed in the process and never replaced. Logging can cause soil erosion, and the logging roads that are built can damage rivers and streams.
For most of the world’s poor people, wood is the only source of fuel they have. Eighty percent of all wood used worldwide is for fuel. Collecting wood for fuel does not necessarily destroy rain forests, but it does damage or degrade them.