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Habitat destruction (also termed habitat loss and habitat reduction) is the process by which a natural
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
becomes incapable of supporting its native species. The organisms that previously inhabited the site are displaced or dead, thereby reducing
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
and species abundance. Habitat destruction is the leading cause of
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
. Activities such as
harvesting Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field (agriculture), fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse (legume), pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper. On smaller farms with minimal mechan ...
natural resources , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Se ...
, industrial production and
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
are human contributions to habitat destruction. Pressure from
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...

agriculture
is the principal human cause. Some others include
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...

mining
,
logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving trees to a location for transport. It may include skidder, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or trunk (botany), logs onto logging truck, trucks or flatcar#Skeleton car, s ...

logging
,
trawling Trawling is a method of fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition a ...
, and
urban sprawl Urban sprawl (also known as suburban sprawl or urban encroachment) is the unrestricted growth in many urban area An urban area, or built-up area, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. ...
. Habitat destruction is currently considered the primary cause of species
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinction
worldwide. Environmental factors can contribute to habitat destruction more indirectly. Geological processes,
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
,
introduction Introduction, The Introduction, Intro, or The Intro may refer to: General use * Introduction (music), an opening section of a piece of music * Introduction (writing), a beginning section to a book, article or essay which states its purpose and g ...
of
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
, ecosystem
nutrient depletionNutrient depletion is a form of resource depletion Resource depletion is the consumption of a resource faster than it can be replenished. Natural resources are commonly divided between renewable resource File:Global Vegetation.jpg, Global veg ...
,
water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known li ...

water
and
noise pollution Noise pollution, also known as or sound , is the propagation of noise with ranging impacts on the activity of human or animal life, most of them harmful to a degree. The source of outdoor noise worldwide is mainly caused by machines, transport, ...
are some examples. Loss of habitat can be preceded by an initial
habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation describes the emergence of discontinuities (fragmentation) in an organism's preferred environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biop ...
. Attempts to address habitat destruction are in international policy commitments embodied by
Sustainable Development Goal 15 Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15 or Global Goal 15) is about "Life on land." One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed ...

Sustainable Development Goal 15
"Life on Land" and
Sustainable Development Goal 14 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Goal 14 or SDG 14) is about "Life below water" and is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed ...

Sustainable Development Goal 14
"Life Below Water". However, the
United Nations Environment Programme The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong Maurice Frederick Strong, (April 29, 1929 – November 27, 20 ...
report on "Making Peace with Nature" released in 2021 found that most of these efforts had failed to meet their internationally agree upon goals.


Impacts on organisms

When a habitat is destroyed, the
carrying capacity The carrying capacity of an Natural environment, environment is the maximum population size of a biological species that can be sustained by that specific environment, given the food, habitat, Drinking water, water, and other resources available. T ...
for
indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular place. The term ' ...
plants, animals, and other organisms is reduced so that populations decline, sometimes up to the level of
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinction
. Habitat loss is perhaps the greatest threat to organisms and biodiversity. Temple (1986) found that 82% of endangered bird species were significantly threatened by habitat loss. Most amphibian species are also threatened by native habitat loss, and some species are now only breeding in modified habitat.
Endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
organisms with limited ranges are most affected by habitat destruction, mainly because these organisms are not found anywhere else within the world, and thus have less chance of recovering. Many endemic organisms have very specific requirements for their survival that can only be found within a certain ecosystem, resulting in their extinction. Extinction may also take place very long after the destruction of habitat, a phenomenon known as
extinction debt In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Topics of interest include the biodi ...
. Habitat destruction can also decrease the range of certain organism populations. This can result in the reduction of genetic diversity and perhaps the production of
infertile Infertility is the inability of a person, animal or plant to reproduce by natural means. It is usually not the natural state of a healthy adult, except notably among certain eusocial species (mostly haplodiploid insects). In humans, infertil ...
youths, as these organisms would have a higher possibility of mating with related organisms within their population, or different species. One of the most famous examples is the impact upon China's
giant panda The giant panda (''Ailuropoda melanoleuca''; ), also known as the panda bear (or simply the panda), is a bear Bears are carnivoran mammals of the family (biology), family Ursidae. They are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivoran ...

giant panda
, once found in many areas of
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
. Now it is only found in fragmented and isolated regions in the southwest of the country, as a result of widespread
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
in the 20th century. As habitat destruction of an area occurs, the
species diversity Species diversity is the number of different species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the ...
offsets from a combination of habitat generalists and specialists to a population primarily consisting of
generalist speciesA generalist species is able to thrive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and can make use of a variety of different resources A resource is a source or supply from which a benefit is produced and that has some utility. Resources can bro ...
.
Invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
are frequently generalists that are able to survive in much more diverse habitats. Habitat destruction leading to climate change offsets the balance of species keeping up with the
extinction thresholdExtinction threshold is a term used in conservation biology Conservation biology is the study of the conservation of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of exti ...
leading to a higher likelihood of extinction.


Destruction of populations

Habitat ragmentation has such a major impact on species populations because it deprives species of what they are naturally accustomed to. This makes the species isolated, reduces the area where they can live, and creates new ecological boundaries. Some studies have shown that changes in the abiotic and biotic parameters have caused a greater impact on the ecology than the reduction in habitat size itself. They concluded that crowding a species into one space will eventually lead to the extinction of that species.


Predators affecting the population of the prey

In recent times the destruction of habitat has been the cause of the loss of many species. Sometimes the area may be small of destruction but as time goes by slowly that will cause an increase in extinction. Loss of habitat is not always the direct cause of extinction; there are other reasons causes for extinction that connect back to the loss of habitat. For example, if the sole predator in an ecosystem were to go extinct, prey populations would increase, which could possibly result in overpopulation. A higher amount of any species that can cause them to use too much of their resources. Since many species depend on limited natural resources, with the overuse they will eventually run out degrade their habitat. Habitat destruction and fragmentation are the two most important factors in species extinction. The negative effects of decreasing size and increasing isolation of habitat are misinterpreted by fragmentation, but in reality they are much more larger effects on the population. Fragmentation generally has either no effect or a negative effect on population survival. Since habitat loss of fragmentation typically occurs together it is still not clear which process has a larger effect on extinction. Increasing isolation and habitat loss with fragmentation are all connected in a way that has negatively affected the environment.


Geography

Biodiversity hotspot A biodiversity hotspot is a ecoregion, biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened by human habitation. Norman Myers wrote about the concept in two articles in “The Environmentalist” (1988), and 1990 revised ...
s are chiefly
tropical The tropics are the region of Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at S; these latitudes correspond to ...

tropical
regions that feature high concentrations of
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
species and, when all hotspots are combined, may contain over half of the world's
terrestrial Terrestrial refers to things related to land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture A ...
species.Cincotta & Engelman, 2000 These hotspots are suffering from habitat loss and destruction. Most of the natural habitat on islands and in areas of high human population density has already been destroyed (WRI, 2003). Islands suffering extreme habitat destruction include
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
,
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
, and
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
.Primack, 2006 South and East Asia—especially
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
, and Japan—and many areas in
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
have extremely dense human populations that allow little room for natural habitat. Marine areas close to highly populated
coast The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Anot ...

coast
al cities also face degradation of their
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient c ...

coral reef
s or other marine habitat. These areas include the eastern coasts of Asia and Africa, northern coasts of
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
, and the
Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lamè Karayib; jam, Kiaribiyan Sii; nl, Caraïbische Zee; pap, Laman Karibe) is an Americas, American Mediterranean sea (oceanography), mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean ...
and its associated
island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), sometimes known as a coral atoll, i ...

island
s. Regions of un
sustainable agriculture Sustainable agriculture is farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise tren ...

sustainable agriculture
or unstable governments, which may go hand-in-hand, typically experience high rates of habitat destruction.
Central America Central America ( es, América Central, , ''Centroamérica'' ) is a region of the Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or ...

Central America
,
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
, and the Amazonian tropical rainforest areas of South America are the main regions with unsustainable agricultural practices and/or government mismanagement. Areas of high agricultural output tend to have the highest extent of habitat destruction. In the U.S., less than 25% of native vegetation remains in many parts of the East and
Midwest The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four Census Bureau Region, census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of ...
.Stein et al., 2000 Only 15% of land area remains unmodified by human activities in all of Europe.


Ecosystems

Tropical rainforest Tropical rainforests are rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape ...

Tropical rainforest
s have received most of the attention concerning the destruction of habitat. From the approximately 16 million square kilometers of tropical rainforest habitat that originally existed worldwide, less than 9 million square kilometers remain today. The current rate of
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
is 160,000 square kilometers per year, which equates to a loss of approximately 1% of original forest habitat each year.Laurance, 1999 Other forest
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s have suffered as much or more destruction as tropical
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
s.
Deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...
for
farming Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors suc ...

farming
and
logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving trees to a location for transport. It may include skidder, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or trunk (botany), logs onto logging truck, trucks or flatcar#Skeleton car, s ...

logging
have severely disturbed at least 94% of temperate broadleaf forests; many
old growth forest An old-growth forest – also termed primary forest, virgin forest, late seral forest or primeval forest – is a forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, ...
stands have lost more than 98% of their previous area because of human activities. Tropical deciduous dry forests are easier to clear and burn and are more suitable for agriculture and than tropical rainforests; consequently, less than 0.1% of dry forests in Central America's Pacific Coast and less than 8% in
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...
remain from their original extents. Plains and
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
areas have been degraded to a lesser extent. Only 10-20% of the world's
drylands Drylands are defined by a scarcity of water. Drylands are zones where precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences Atmospheric science is the study of the Earth's atmosphere File:Atmosphere gas ...
, which include
temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization founded in 1961 that works in the field ...
,
scrub Scrub(s) may refer to: * Scrub, low shrub and grass characteristic of Shrubland, scrubland * Scrubs (clothing), worn by medical staff * Scrubs (TV series), ''Scrubs'' (TV series), an American television program * Scrubs (occupation), also called " ...

scrub
, and
deciduous forests In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall off", in reference to tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (bo ...
, have been somewhat degraded. But included in that 10-20% of land is the approximately 9 million square kilometers of seasonally dry-lands that humans have converted to deserts through the process of
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
. The
tallgrass prairie The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic component, biotic and abiotic ...
s of North America, on the other hand, have less than 3% of natural habitat remaining that has not been converted to farmland.
Wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

Wetland
s and marine areas have endured high levels of habitat destruction. More than 50% of wetlands in the U.S. have been destroyed in just the last 200 years. Between 60% and 70% of European wetlands have been completely destroyed. In the United Kingdom, there has been an increase in demand for coastal housing and tourism which has caused a decline in marine habitats over the last 60 years. The
rising sea levels Tide gauge measurements show that the current global sea level rise began at the start of the 20th century. Between 1900 and 2017, the globally averaged sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquia ...

rising sea levels
and temperatures have caused
soil erosion Soil erosion is the displacement of the upper layer of soil File:Stagnogley.JPG, Surface-water-Gley soil, gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that togeth ...

soil erosion
,
coastal flooding Coastal flooding normally occurs when dry and low-lying land is submerged by seawater. The range of a coastal flooding is a result of the elevation of floodwater that penetrates the inland which is controlled by the topography Topography is ...
, and loss of quality in the UK
marine ecosystem Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth's aquatic ecosystems and exist in Saline water, waters that have a high salt content. These systems contrast with freshwater ecosystems, which have a lower salt content. Marine waters cover more than 70% ...
. About one-fifth (20%) of marine coastal areas have been highly modified by humans. One-fifth of coral reefs have also been destroyed, and another fifth has been severely degraded by
overfishing Overfishing is the removal of a species of fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, an ...
, pollution, and
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
; 90% of the Philippines' coral reefs alone have been destroyed.Millennium Ecological Assessment, 2005 Finally, over 35% of the mangrove ecosystems worldwide have been destroyed.


Natural causes

Habitat destruction through natural processes such as volcanism,
fire BBQ. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction Product (chemistry), products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecula ...

fire
, and climate change is well documented in the fossil record. One study shows that habitat fragmentation of tropical rainforests in Euramerica 300 million years ago led to a great loss of amphibian diversity, but simultaneously the drier climate spurred on a burst of diversity among reptiles.


Human causes

Habitat destruction caused by humans includes
land conversion Land development is altering the landscape in any number of ways such as: * Changing landforms from a natural or semi-natural state for a purpose such as agriculture or House, housing * subdivision (land), Subdividing real estate into Lot (real est ...

land conversion
from forests, etc. to
arable land Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be plough A plough or plow ( US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditionally drawn by oxen and horses, but in modern farms ...

arable land
,
urban sprawl Urban sprawl (also known as suburban sprawl or urban encroachment) is the unrestricted growth in many urban area An urban area, or built-up area, is a human settlement with a high population density and infrastructure of built environment. ...
, , and other anthropogenic changes to the characteristics of land. Habitat degradation, fragmentation, and
pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminant Contamination is the presence of a constituent, impurity, or some other undesirable element that spoils, corrupts, infects, makes unfit, or makes inferior a material, physical body, natural en ...

pollution
are aspects of habitat destruction caused by humans that do not necessarily involve over destruction of habitat, yet result in habitat collapse.
Desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
,
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
, and are specific types of habitat destruction for those areas (
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of ...

desert
s,
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
s,
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient c ...

coral reef
s). Geist and Lambin (2002) assessed 152 case studies of net losses of tropical forest cover to determine any patterns in the proximate and underlying causes of tropical deforestation. Their results, yielded as percentages of the case studies in which each parameter was a significant factor, provide a quantitative prioritization of which proximate and underlying causes were the most significant. The proximate causes were clustered into broad categories of
agricultural expansion Agricultural expansion describes the growth of agricultural land Agricultural land is typically land ''devoted to'' agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key develo ...
(96%), infrastructure expansion (72%), and wood extraction (67%). Therefore, according to this study,
forest conversion Land development is altering the landscape in any number of ways such as: * Changing landforms from a natural or semi-natural state for a purpose such as agriculture or House, housing * subdivision (land), Subdividing real estate into Lot (real es ...
to agriculture is the main land use change responsible for tropical deforestation. The specific categories reveal further insight into the specific causes of tropical deforestation: transport extension (64%), commercial wood extraction (52%), permanent cultivation (48%), (46%), shifting (
slash and burn Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating ...
) cultivation (41%),
subsistence agriculture Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmer A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, se ...
(40%), and
fuel wood Firewood is any wooden material that is gathered and used for fuel A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as heat energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally appli ...

fuel wood
extraction for domestic use (28%). One result is that
shifting cultivation Shifting cultivation is an agricultural Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated ...

shifting cultivation
is not the primary cause of deforestation in all world regions, while transport extension (including the ) is the largest single proximate factor responsible for deforestation.


Global warming

Rising global temperatures, caused by the
greenhouse effect The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. Radiatively active gases (i.e., greenhouse gas A greenhou ...

greenhouse effect
, contribute to habitat destruction, endangering various species, such as the
polar bear The polar bear (''Ursus Ursus is Latin for bear. It may also refer to: Animals *Ursus (mammal), ''Ursus'' (mammal), a genus of bears People * Ursus of Aosta, 6th-century evangelist * Ursus of Auxerre, 6th-century bishop * Ursus of Soloth ...

polar bear
. Melting
ice cap In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glacier.html" ;"title="moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier">moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt, Swiss Alps. The moraine is ...
s promote rising sea levels and floods which threaten natural habitats and species globally.


Drivers

While the above-mentioned activities are the proximal or direct causes of habitat destruction in that they actually destroy habitat, this still does not identify why humans destroy habitat. The forces that cause humans to destroy habitat are known as ''drivers'' of habitat destruction.
Demographic Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period ...

Demographic
, economic, sociopolitical, scientific and technological, and cultural drivers all contribute to habitat destruction. Demographic drivers include the expanding human population; rate of
population increase Population growth is the increase in the number of individuals in a population In biology, a population is a number of all the organisms of the same group or species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, ...
over time;
spatial distribution A spatial distribution is the arrangement of a phenomenon across the Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough ...

spatial distribution
of people in a given area (
urban Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities. Urban may also refer to: General * Urban (name), a list of people ...
versus rural), ecosystem type, and country; and the combined effects of poverty, age, family planning, gender, and education status of people in certain areas. Most of the exponential human population growth worldwide is occurring in or close to
biodiversity hotspots A biodiversity hotspot is a ecoregion, biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened by human habitation. Norman Myers wrote about the concept in two articles in “The Environmentalist” (1988), and 1990 revised ...

biodiversity hotspots
. This may explain why human population density accounts for 87.9% of the variation in numbers of
threatened species Threatened species are any species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactio ...
across 114 countries, providing indisputable evidence that people play the largest role in decreasing
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
. The boom in human population and migration of people into such species-rich regions are making conservation efforts not only more urgent but also more likely to conflict with local human interests. The high local population density in such areas is directly correlated to the poverty status of the local people, most of whom lacking an education and family planning.Geist & Lambin, 2002 According to the Geist and Lambin (2002) study, the underlying driving forces were prioritized as follows (with the percent of the 152 cases the factor played a significant role in): economic factors (81%), institutional or policy factors (78%), technological factors (70%), cultural or socio-political factors (66%), and
demographic Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period ...

demographic
factors (61%). The main economic factors included
commercialization Commercialization or commercialisation is the process A process is a series or set of Action (philosophy), activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recurrent or periodic. Things called a process include: Busines ...
and growth of timber markets (68%), which are driven by national and international demands; urban industrial growth (38%); low domestic costs for land, labor, fuel, and timber (32%); and increases in product prices mainly for cash crops (25%). Institutional and policy factors included formal pro-
deforestation deforestation in 1750-2004 (net loss) showing anthropogenic modification of remaining forest. File:MODIS (2020-08-01).jpg, 300px, Dry seasons, exacerbated by climate change, and the use of slash-and-burn methods for clearing tropical forest ...

deforestation
policies on
land development Land development is altering the landscape in any number of ways such as: * Changing landforms from a natural or semi-natural state for a purpose such as agriculture or House, housing * subdivision (land), Subdividing real estate into Lot (real est ...
(40%),
economic growth Economic growth can be defined as the increase or improvement in the inflation-adjusted market value of the goods and services produced by an economics, economy over time. Statisticians conventionally measure such growth as the percent rate of i ...

economic growth
including
colonization Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their—or their ancestors'—former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such l ...
and infrastructure improvement (34%), and subsidies for land-based activities (26%);
property rights The right to property, or the right to own property (cf. ownership Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be any asset, including an object, land or real estate, intellectual property, or until th ...
and land-tenure insecurity (44%); and policy failures such as
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty. It is used to describe a lack of probity, cheating, lying, or deliberately withholding information, or being deliberately deceptive or a lack in integrity, knavishness, ...

corruption
, lawlessness, or mismanagement (42%). The main technological factor was the poor application of technology in the
wood industry The wood industry or lumber industry is the industry concerned with forestry, logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving trees to a location for transport. It may include skidder, skidding, on-site processing, and loadi ...
(45%), which leads to wasteful logging practices. Within the broad category of cultural and sociopolitical factors are public attitudes and values (63%), individual/household behavior (53%), public unconcern toward forest environments (43%), missing basic values (36%), and unconcern by individuals (32%). Demographic factors were the in-migration of colonizing settlers into sparsely populated forest areas (38%) and growing population density—a result of the first factor—in those areas (25%). There are also feedbacks and interactions among the proximate and underlying causes of deforestation that can amplify the process. Road construction has the largest feedback effect, because it interacts with—and leads to—the establishment of new settlements and more people, which causes a growth in wood (logging) and food markets. Growth in these markets, in turn, progresses the commercialization of agriculture and logging industries. When these industries become commercialized, they must become more efficient by utilizing larger or more modern machinery that often has a worse effect on the habitat than traditional farming and logging methods. Either way, more land is cleared more rapidly for commercial markets. This common feedback example manifests just how closely related the proximate and underlying causes are to each other.


Impact on human population

Habitat destruction can vastly increase an area's vulnerability to
natural disaster A natural disaster is a major adverse event An adverse event (AE) is any untoward medical occurrence in a patient or clinical investigation subject administered a pharmaceutical product and which does not necessarily have a causal relations ...
s like
flood A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide Tides are the rise and fall of sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often ...

flood
and
drought A drought is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorolog ...

drought
,
crop failure Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an ...
, spread of disease, and
water contamination Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies, usually as a result of human activities. Water bodies include for example lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land, apart from any river ...
. On the other hand, a healthy ecosystem with good
management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spok ...
practices can reduce the chance of these events happening, or will at least mitigate adverse impacts. Eliminating swamps—the habitat of
pest Pest or The Pest may refer to: Science and medicine * Pest (organism), an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns ** Weed, a plant considered undesirable * Infectious disease, an illness resulting from an infection ** Plague (diseas ...
s such as
mosquito Mosquitoes are members of a group of almost 3,600 species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defin ...

mosquito
es—has contributed to the prevention of diseases such as
malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign fo ...

malaria
. Completely depriving an
infectious agent In biology, a pathogen ( el, πάθος, "suffering", "passion" and , "producer of") in the oldest and broadest sense, is any organism that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or simply a Germ theory ...
(such as a virus) of its habitat—by
vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a vaccine to help the immune system develop protection from a disease. Vaccines contain a microorganism or virus in a weakened, live or killed state, or proteins or toxins from the organism. In stimulating ...

vaccination
, for example—can result in eradicating that infectious agent. Agricultural land can suffer from the destruction of the surrounding landscape. Over the past 50 years, the destruction of habitat surrounding agricultural land has degraded approximately 40% of agricultural land worldwide via erosion,Soil salinity, salinization, Soil compaction, compaction, Natural resource#Depletion , nutrient depletion,
pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminant Contamination is the presence of a constituent, impurity, or some other undesirable element that spoils, corrupts, infects, makes unfit, or makes inferior a material, physical body, natural en ...

pollution
, and
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
. Humans also lose direct uses of natural habitat when habitat is destroyed. Aesthetic uses such as birdwatching, recreational uses like hunting and fishing, and ecotourism usually rely upon relatively undisturbed habitat. Many people value the complexity of the natural world and express concern at the loss of natural habitats and of animal or plant species worldwide. Probably the most profound impact that habitat destruction has on people is the loss of many valuable ecosystem services. Habitat destruction has altered nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and carbon cycles, which has increased the frequency and severity of acid rain, algal blooms, and fish kills in rivers and oceans and contributed tremendously to global
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
. One ecosystem service whose significance is becoming better understood is Climate, climate regulation. On a local scale, trees provide windbreaks and shade; on a regional scale, Transpiration , plant transpiration recycles rainwater and maintains constant annual rainfall; on a global scale, plants (especially trees in tropical rainforests) around the world counter the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by Carbon sequestration , sequestering carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Other ecosystem services that are diminished or lost altogether as a result of habitat destruction include watershed management, nitrogen fixation, oxygen production, pollination (see pollinator decline), waste treatment (i.e., the Decomposition , breaking down and immobilization of toxic pollutants), and Nutrient cycle, nutrient recycling of sewage or agricultural runoff. The loss of trees from tropical rainforests alone represents a substantial diminishing of Earth's ability to produce oxygen and to use up carbon dioxide. These services are becoming even more important as increasing carbon dioxide levels is one of the main contributors to global
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
. The Biodiversity loss, loss of biodiversity may not directly affect humans, but the indirect effects of losing many species as well as the diversity of ecosystems in general are enormous. When biodiversity is lost, the environment loses many species that perform valuable and unique roles in the ecosystem. The environment and all its inhabitants rely on biodiversity to recover from extreme environmental conditions. When too much biodiversity is lost, a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption could cause an ecosystem to crash, and humans would obviously suffer from that. Loss of biodiversity also means that humans are losing animals that could have served as biological-control agents and plants that could potentially provide higher-yielding crop varieties, pharmaceutical drugs to cure existing or future diseases (such as cancer), and new resistant crop-varieties for agricultural species susceptible to pesticide-resistant insects or virulent strains of fungi, viruses, and bacteria. The negative effects of habitat destruction usually impact rural populations more directly than urban populations. Across the globe, poor people suffer the most when natural habitat is destroyed, because less natural habitat means fewer natural resources ''per capita'', yet wealthier people and countries can simply pay more to continue to receive more than their ''per capita'' share of natural resources. Another way to view the negative effects of habitat destruction is to look at the opportunity cost of destroying a given habitat. In other words, what do people lose out on with the removal of a given habitat? A country may increase its food supply by converting forest land to row-crop agriculture, but the value of the same land may be much larger when it can supply natural resources or services such as clean water, timber, ecotourism, or flood regulation and drought control.


Outlook

The Human overpopulation, rapid expansion of the global human population is increasing the world's food requirement substantially. Simple logic dictates that more people will require more food. In fact, as the world's population increases dramatically, agricultural output will need to increase by at least 50%, over the next 30 years.Tilman et al., 2001 In the past, continually moving to new land and soils provided a boost in food production to meet the global food demand. That easy fix will no longer be available, however, as more than 98% of all land suitable for agriculture is already in use or degraded beyond repair. The impending global food crisis will be a major source of habitat destruction. Commercial farmers are going to become desperate to produce more food from the same amount of land, so they will use more fertilizers and show less concern for the environment to meet the market demand. Others will seek out new land or will convert other land-uses to agriculture. Agricultural intensification will become widespread at the cost of the environment and its inhabitants. Species will be pushed out of their habitat either directly by habitat destruction or indirectly by fragmentation, environmental degradation, degradation, or
pollution Pollution is the introduction of contaminant Contamination is the presence of a constituent, impurity, or some other undesirable element that spoils, corrupts, infects, makes unfit, or makes inferior a material, physical body, natural en ...

pollution
. Any efforts to protect the world's remaining natural habitat and biodiversity will compete directly with humans' growing demand for natural resources, especially new agricultural lands.


Solutions

Tropical deforestation: In most cases of tropical deforestation, three to four underlying causes are driving two to three proximate causes. This means that a universal policy for controlling tropical deforestation would not be able to address the unique combination of proximate and underlying causes of deforestation in each country. Before any local, national, or international deforestation policies are written and enforced, governmental leaders must acquire a detailed understanding of the complex combination of proximate causes and underlying driving forces of deforestation in a given area or country. This concept, along with many other results of tropical deforestation from the Geist and Lambin study, can easily be applied to habitat destruction in general. Shoreline erosion: Coastal erosion is a natural process as storms, waves, tides and other water level changes occur. Shoreline stabilization can be done by barriers between land and water such as seawalls and bulkheads. Living shorelines are gaining attention as new stabilization method. These can reduce damage and erosion while simultaneously providing ecosystem services such as food production, nutrient and sediment removal, and water quality improvement to society To prevent an area from losing its specialist species to generalist invasive species depends on the extent of the habitat destruction that has already taken place. In areas where habitat is relatively undisturbed, halting further habitat destruction may be enough. In areas where habitat destruction is more extreme (Habitat fragmentation, fragmentation or patch loss), Restoration ecology may be needed. Education of the general public is possibly the best way to prevent further human habitat destruction. Changing the dull creep of environmental impacts from being viewed as acceptable to being seen a reason for change to more sustainable practices. Education about the necessity of family planning to slow population growth is important as greater population leads to greater human caused habitat destruction. The preservation and creation of Wildlife corridor, habitat corridors can link isolated populations and increase pollination. Corridors are also known to reduce the negative impacts of habitat destruction. The biggest potential to solving the issue of habitat destruction comes from solving the political, economical and social problems that go along with it such as, individual and commercial material consumption, sustainable extraction of resources, Protected area, conservation areas, restoration of degraded land  and addressing climate change. Governmental leaders need to take action by addressing the underlying driving forces, rather than merely regulating the proximate causes. In a broader sense, governmental bodies at a local, national, and international scale need to emphasize: # Considering the irreplaceable ecosystem services provided by natural habitats. # Protecting remaining intact sections of natural habitat. # Finding ecological ways to increase agricultural output without increasing the total land in production. # Reducing human population and expansion. Apart from improving access to contraception globally, furthering gender equality also has a great benefit. When women have the same education (decision-making power), this generally leads to smaller families.


Notes


References

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