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Habitat loss is one of the largest problems facing our wildlife. Every year, loss of habitat puts an increasing amount of stress on wildlife. This decimates animal populations, sometimes to extinction. Habitats are generally classified as lost when they are degraded to the point where they can’t support their native species.
One of the biggest modern causes of habitat loss is deforestation. Deforestation is the process of clearing trees/forests in order to create flat land for use. The main catalysts for deforestation are the lumber and agriculture industry. Rough estimates state that the creation of agricultural land accounts for about 80% of tropical deforestation while forest degradation is mostly due to logging.
A new report from the University of Cincinnati states that forests tend to have a “tipping point” when it comes to deforestation. Using data that analyzed over 60 different landscape combinations on all continents, researchers discovered that forests rarely ever cover once about half of its area has been cleared. Their data showed that up to the halfway point, deforestation occurred fairly slow. After this point, the rate of deforestation rapidly increases. The phenomena were attributed to a theory stating that habitats aim to be homogenous and once deforestation begins, new environmental conditions snowball together to continually speed up the process.
Why does this matter? Many of our natural forest habitats are suffering from deforestation and are approaching this critical halfway point. Recent years have seen record levels of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest while wildfires across the globe have added to the amount of deforested land as well. If we’re going to save our forests, we need to act before it’s too late. Join Physis today to fight against climate change.
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