Habitat Fragmentation and its Lasting Impact on Earth’s Ecosystems

Science Advances (March 20, 2015 v1 n2 e1500052; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500052) / by Nick M. Haddad, et al.

[Yale Environment 360] Fragmentation of the world’s forests has become so severe that 70 percent of remaining woodlands are now within 1 kilometer of a road or other form of development, according to a new study. Using the world’s first high-resolution satellite map of tree cover, as well as an analysis of seven long-term fragmentation studies, researchers showed that the ongoing destruction of global forests is decreasing biodiversity by as much as 75 percent in some areas and adversely affecting the ability of forests to store carbon and produce clean water. The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that 20 percent of the world’s forests are just 100 meters from a human-created “edge.” Even many parks and protected areas have undergone fragmentation. The few remaining large, virgin tracts of forest can be found in parts of the Amazon, Siberia, Congo, and Papua New Guinea, the study said. “The key results are shocking and sad,” said lead researcher Nick Haddad. “This study is a wake-up call to how much we’re affecting ecosystems — including areas we think we’re conserving.”


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