Applying Nature's Design: Corridors as a Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation

Applying Nature's Design: Corridors as a Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation

Applying Nature's Design: Corridors as a Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation

Applying Nature's Design: Corridors as a Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation

Synopsis

The fragmenting of habitats is endangering animal populations and degrading or destroying many plant populations throughout the world. To address this problem, conservationists have increasingly turned to biological corridors, areas of land set aside to facilitate the movement of species and ecological processes. However, while hundreds of corridor initiatives are under way worldwide, there is little practical information to guide their design, location, and management. "Applying Nature's Design" offers a comprehensive overview of current knowledge on corridors, their design, and their implementation. Anthony B. Anderson and Clinton N. Jenkins examine a variety of conceptual and practical issues associated with corridors and provide detailed case studies from around the world. Their work considers how to manage and govern corridors, how to build support among various interest groups for corridors, and the obstacles to implementation. In addition to assessing various environmental and ecological challenges, the authors are the first to consider the importance of socioeconomic and political issues in creating and maintaining corridors.

Excerpt

Now, rather than human development occurring in a matrix of
natural landscape, natural areas occur in a matrix of human
dominated landscape.
–Harris and Scheck (1991:189)

Today's biodiversity crisis is the direct result of the conversion and loss of natural habitat occurring worldwide at unprecedented rates and scales. Between 1945 and 1990, about 20 million square kilometers – or nearly 17 percent of the Earth's vegetated area – became degraded (WRI 1992: 112). Logging and conversion have shrunk global forest cover by at least 20 percent, and some forest ecosystems – such as the dry tropical forests – are virtually gone (UNDP/UNEP/World Bank/WRI 2000). Over half of the world's coral reefs are under serious stress resulting from destructive fishing practices, pollution, and global warming (Hughes et al. 2003).

Many of the forces driving habitat loss continue to increase and, more troubling still, are interacting synergistically – thereby accelerating ecosystem change (Vitousek et al. 1997). For example, logging not only degrades tropical forest ecosystems but also increases the flammability of entire landscapes, leading to further forest degradation (Nepstad et al. 1999). Likewise, scientists expect global warming to result in widespread habitat modification, and widely believe that its effects on polar ice caps will accelerate climate change – thereby contributing to further habitat loss (IPCC 2001).

The process of habitat loss rarely involves outright conversion of natural habitats over entire landscapes, although current technologies make this increasingly possible. Instead, habitat loss is generally a process of fragmentation, and species disappear as the once-intact habitats that supported them become increasingly fragmented.

Habitat fragmentation is a major driver of today's biodiversity crisis. Defined as the conversion of large, continuous areas of habitat to smaller . . .

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