- Habitat loss and degradation is the #1 threat to nature.
Habitat loss, also known as habitat destruction, is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, posing serious problems for wildlife and humans. It is the process by which natural habitat, a home to animals and plants, has been changed to the point that it is no longer capable of supporting its native species. It usually results in the extinction of animals and plants, and consequently, the loss of biodiversity.
The UAE has an incredible amount of wildlife diversity, however, much of it is under threat because of fishing, pollution, the pressures of urban and industrial development, and climate change. Sadly, our wadis, mangroves, coastal areas, deserts and wetlands are all under threat of habitat loss. The population of some native creatures such as the Emirati leaf-toed gecko, which inhabits Khor Fakkan, are also fighting for survival because of the pressures of development. Marine wildlife, such as the dugong or “sea cow”, is under threat from habitat loss, entanglement in fishing nets and boat strikes. This mysterious mammal has become part of conservation projects and organizations in the UAE, such as The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project, because they play an important ecological role since their population status can be used as an indicator of general ecosystem health and because they are central to the cultural heritage of many coastal communities.
A vast majority of natural habitats are destroyed directly by many human activities, one of the main causes being the agricultural industry and its activities, which involves the clearing of land, intensive harvesting of timber and wood for fuel and overgrazing. Another major cause of this environmental threat is the conversion of lands, which once provided wildlife habitat, to housing developments, roads, malls and other infrastructure – the curse of urban sprawl. Although much habitat destruction can be attributed to human activity, it does also occur as a result of natural events such as floods, earthquakes, and climate fluctuations. These extreme weather events are made even more intense and more long-lived due to climate change.
As humans continue to destroy natural habitats, we are also harming ourselves because it is contributing to climate change. The more trees we cut down, the less the earth is able to absorb carbon dioxide and the more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere contributing to climate change, consequently killing various species and posing significant threats to human health due to this change in climate
However, we CAN combat habitat loss and by first understanding the importance of biodiversity and how to protect it, and then raising awareness and educating others on the consequences of its destruction. Preserving natural resources, learning how to use them in a sustainable manner – when we focus on education and personal action, then we have effective solutions to habitat destruction that can create a meaningful impact on local, national, and global scales.
Link to the Knowledge Hub Glossary: https://www.connectwithnature.ae/knowledge-hub/knowledge-hub-glossary-0