So last week I explained what habitat fragmentation was and how it was harmful to wildlife. Today I’ll tell you a few ways that you personally can get involved to aid in preventing further habitat destruction.
It’s easy to get deterred as individuals when it comes to fighting for the protection of wildlife and habitat, but everyone can make a difference in some regard.
Any colored pencil painters out there? That might seem like a contrary statement for people that aren’t, but those artists out there know what I’m talking about. There is a high quality colored pencil on the market called Prismacolor. Now, my point in bringing it up is that on the side of the box there is a clear statement claiming that the wood for the pencils did not come from rainforest wood. I’m sure there are lots of products on the market that make the same claim. Even McDonald‘s makes a similar statement that they do not use beef that was raised on a pasture that used to be rainforest (The Brazilian government have attributed 38% of deforestation from 1966-1975 to large scale cattle ranching). Why? Why do companies stop certain behaviors and make statements pointing out they are innocent of certain behaviors or products? Easy, because consumers got together and demanded they stop or never start, because these consumers cared about the issue of rainforest destruction. Being a conscious consumer is important for a whole slew of reasons!
Another way to aid in preventing habitat destruction would be recycling. Sounds simple enough, right? Now, recycling itself actually requires quite a bit of electricity, but that’s not thepoint of this post. If you recycle, and just as important, use products made of recycled materials, this limits the amount of new resources needed. Fewer new resources needed means fewer roads to get to these sources, fewer mountains blown up, fewer streams polluted by resource extraction. Of course, in the larger scope of things this is probably more of a slowing mechanism than a solution, but every bit helps.
If you are a business owner looking for new property for your business, or someone that wants to build their own homes, using land already “developed” instead of wild land prevents the destruction of that habitat. I see empty lots, unused buildings, and run down factories all the time. They just sit there, unused. If these were torn down or rebuilt instead of going to that life-filled grassland to build your business, think about it. These already “developed” areas usually already have electrical, sewer, and water hook-ups, are already paved, are already on a road.
Speaking of individuals and companies, did you know that something as simple as a fence can fragment a habitat? Think about it, that fence is there for a reason, either to keep something in or out. It makes it difficult for species to get over or around. Just making the decision not to fence in your yard could have positive consequences depending on where you live, or maybe just fencing in a portion of your yard (we do want to keep our little doggies out of the street, of course).
Just as important, there are sometimes movements to “reclaim” unused properties and create new habitat. I’ve seen this down a number of times on old landfills. These projects require support, volunteers, and donations to get off the ground and succeed. Such a project is happening in my volunteer stomping ground, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. I’ve also heard of a similar project in NYC.
Next, here in the U.S. I commonly hear about groups fighting against the proposed development of roads through national forests. These groups need support such as members and donations. Sometimes these roads are wanted for resource extraction, sometimes just to make a trip shorter, sometimes to allow new access for recreation. Yet even small roads or trails used by off-road vehicles such as dirt bikes or four-wheelers can harm wildlife. As I said last week, sometimes even noise or a presence can be too much for some species.
There are many ways to we fight habitat loss and fragmentation, but the most important thing on any environmental issue is to be aware of it first! Then we must educate ourselves and others. Corporate interests can be a powerful lobbying agency, but consumers can be even more powerful.