Fragmentation and degradation are two major contributors that go hand in hand with development. Hillstrom and Hillstrom point out that ” Inefficient community design is one cause of habitat fragmentation. Another is the haphazardly built system of secondary highways and roads that is both a cause and result of sprawl”(12) . When subdivisions go in, more and more often they are homes with one to two acre zoning, resulting in the sprawl for one housing development covering even more area.
Throughout the United States millions and millions of miles of these interconnected roads and highways, that serve to connect the housing and the commercial developments, form barriers, creating separated little oasis, of sustainable habitat.
As development proceeds, subdivisions, factories, and strip malls spread even further afield, all being connected to each other by this constantly growing network of tar and concrete. It is an endless cycle of human growth and expansion, and connection.
Not enough care and planning is being taken to keep wildlife habitat, animal life, and biodiversity alive and thriving.
Regarding Fragmentation of habitat, Silberstein and Maser refer to it as ” The most serious threat to biological, genetic, and functional diversity”(13). Maser and Silberstein cite that fragmentation ” Is the primary cause of not only the often discussed global crisis of the rate of biological extinctions but also the less discussed crisis regarding the rate of local extinction”(14). (12) Hillstrom Kevin, Hillstrom Laurie Collier.
North America: A Continental Overview of Environmental Issues. Edition: illustrated, Published by ABC-CLIO, 2003. P. 18. (13) Johnson Elizabeth Ann. Klemens Michael W. Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl. Edition: illustrated, Published by Columbia University Press, 2005. P. 43. (14) ) Maser Chris, Silberstein Jane, Land-use Planning for Sustainable Development. Published by CRC Press, 2000,p. 43. 5 Fragmentation causes the formation of those islands of refuge, that the animals in the area naturally are drawn, to in search of sustainable habitat.
It does not usually take too long, before so many animals are drawn into the enclosed havens, confined by the spiderweb of roads and highways, that the food sources available there become too depleted to support the refugees contained within the man made boundaries. Fragmentation, and the total stripping of vegetation and food sources in these areas destroys the biodiversity of the habitat in a manner it may not ever be able to recover from even after the animals are gone, either starved to death or attempting to migrate elsewhere.
Authors Emel and Wolch, in their book, ‘ Animal Geographies’ state that ” Some animals can adapt to such fragmentation and to the human proximity it implies, but more commonly animals die in situ, or migrate to less fragmented areas”(15) , and as already noted, migration across the man made roadways is a risk as well. Smaller animals such as bird varieties, and squirrels, lower life forms such as insects and such are able to adapt, and at times even thrive in small park like settings, but foxes, racoon, deer, and other larger predatory animals like bears, and cougars have no place within man’s neighborhoods.
Degradation of the habitat is just as bad, it may take a little longer to become apparent, but often when an area is identified, it is already in danger of complete collapse. Many times the corporations are only exposed as guilty of negligent practices resulting in contamination, and or polluting an area, after a major animal die off draws attention to the problem. “ The threats of massive environmental degradation and species extinction and the commodification of billions of animals as the economy goes global have led to turbulent politics surrounding animals”(16).
Oil spills, chemical releases, water source contamination have all made headlines, and help draw attention to the situation, and create awareness of the plight of animals in our areas. (15) Emel Jody, Wolch Jennifer. Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-culture Borderlands, Edition: illustrated, Published by Verso, 1998,p. 127. (16) Ibid. p. 8. 6