11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

Habitat Conservation

Habitat conservation is a land management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore, habitat areas for wild plants and animals, especially conservation reliant species, and prevent their extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.

The natural environment is a source for a wide range of resources that can be exploited for economic profit, for example timber is harvested from forests and clean water is obtained from natural streams. However, land development from anthropogenic economic growth often causes a decline in the ecological integrity of nearby natural habitat. For instance, this was an issue in the northern rocky mountains of the USA.

Impacts of Habitat Conservation

1. Natural Causes - Habitat loss and destruction can occur both naturally and through anthropogenic causes. Events leading to natural habitat loss include climate change, catastrophic events such as volcanic explosions and through the interactions of invasive and non-invasive species.
2. Human Impacts - Since radiating out from its birthplace in Africa, Homo sapiens has been the cause of many species’ extinction. Due to humans’ propensity to shape and modify their environment, the habitat of other species often become altered or destroyed as a result of human actions.

Habitat conservation is important in maintaining biodiversity, an essential part of global food security. There is evidence to support a trend of accelerating erosion of the genetic resources of agricultural plants and animals. An increase in genetic similarity of agricultural plants and animals means an increased risk of food loss from major epidemics. Wild species of agricultural plants have been found to be more resistant to disease, for example the wild corn species Teosinte is resistant to 4 corn diseases that affect human grown crops. A combination of seed banking and habitat conservation has been proposed to maintain plant diversity for food security purposes.

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