Impact on global ecosystems of shrinking forest habitats

Photo credit: Nature World News

(Photo : Nick Haddad, NC State University)

Shrinking Forest Habitats Impact Global Ecosystems

By Jenna Iacurci

It’s no secret that human activity is transforming our world. For example, increasing development for agriculture or new communities is shrinking forest habitats, and new research shows that this is having a significant impact on global ecosystems.

According to findings published in the journal Science Advances, 70 percent of existing forest lands are within a half-mile of the forest edge, where encroaching urban, suburban or agricultural influences can cause any number of harmful effects – such as the loss of plants and animals.

What’s more, habitat fragmentation – the division of habitats into smaller and more isolated patches – reduces the diversity of plants and animals by 13 to 75 percent, with the smallest, most isolated areas feeling the worst effects.

A team from North Carolina State University decided to track seven major experiments on five continents that examine habitat fragmentation, which covered ecosystems ranging from forests to savannas to grasslands.

“The results were astounding. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forest is the distance of a football field – or about 100 meters – away from a forest edge. Seventy percent of forest lands are within a half-mile of a forest edge. That means almost no forest can really be considered wilderness,” researcher Dr. Nick Haddad explained in a statement.

Read the full article: Nature World News

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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