ThinkProgress reports: For most, forests are something to be driven by or hiked through briefly. A new study shows just how much humankind has tailored these landscapes to our own devices at the expense of the rest of the natural world.
The findings, published this week in the journal Science Advances, offer some of the longest-term evidence available on how ecosystems and species react to habitat loss and fragmentation over time. The trend is distinctively negative.
“There is a consistent loss of species — birds, butterflies, plants — across every experiment, and these experiments varied widely,” Nick M. Haddad, North Carolina State University biologist and lead author of the study on habitat fragmentation, told ThinkProgress. “But they were all going downward.”
Hadded said he was “shocked” at the study’s findings on how much we’ve “sliced and diced” forest ecosystems through human development, which includes everything from building railroads to cutting down trees for cropland.
“I expected to see more forest that was more remote, and more wilderness,” he said.
Bringing together numerous studies chronicling global habitat divisions over the last 35 years, Haddad and his co-authors found that only two “big blobs” of forest remain on Earth — in the Brazilian Amazon and the Congo Basin. They also found that some 70 percent of all remaining global forest cover is within one kilometer, or 0.6 miles, of human development. [Continue reading…]