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Habitat destruction

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Temperate rainforest, Garibaldi Lake Trail in Biritish Colombia, Canada.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

The most important cause of biodiversity loss is the ongoing deterioration and transformation of natural habitats. Each year, a growing world population with ever increasing consumption requirements is having a greater impact on available land. Natural areas are being cleared for food production, urban development, timber harvest or industrial sites. Pollution and desertification compound the problem. At sea, unsustainable fishing practices, such as trawling, are responsible for large-scale habitat destruction.

In addition to loss of biodiversity, the destruction or degradation of natural habitats can, for example, result in a greater susceptibility of the landscape to natural disasters.

Setting representative tracts of land aside for conservation is to be encouraged but is not enough. Outside of these protected preservation areas, it is vital that land be managed in a sustainable manner.

Seeking solutions

In addition, measures can be taken to stimulate the rebuilding of biodiversity in degraded or threatened habitats. While restoring a degraded habitat to its original state is often impossible, re-greening efforts can, in the long run, achieve highly worthwhile results from the standpoint of biodiversity. Sites whose existing biodiversity is threatened by their isolation (by roads, crop fields, urban development, etc.) and small size may be reconnected with green corridors, hedges and protected riverbanks. Such measures also facilitate the mobilization of certain species and may, therefore, enhance their adaptability to climate change.

These texts have been provided by the Université de Montréal Biodiversity Centre.

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