Forum: Save habitat for wildlife that are losing homes

Numerous animals and plants are facing extinction unless we work to protect and restore their habitat.

By Liviya Harrison / Herald Forum

I’m here to discuss something our community could do a better job at fixing. Since I was a kid, I have been concerned for our wildlife, to the point where when I was just 8 years old, I chose to be vegetarian and have been ever since.

I have attended the Snohomish School District my whole life and I am currently a senior at Snohomish High School where I am taking a class called Civics and Environment. I was eager to take this class, considering the problems with our environment I’ve seen myself for years. We were assigned to act on an issue we truly believe in.

I hope to open your eyes and our communities’ eyes on how and why we should take better care of our wildlife and their habitats. As quickly as humans can destroy natural habitats, we should be just as willing to put forth the effort to rebuild and attempt to replace what is lost.

Animals and plants found in unexpected places and environments has been an ongoing issue, especially these past few years, due to the pandemic. Paved roads continue to increase, so too do the barriers to animal movement and the number of wild animal-vehicle collisions. Currently, approximately one million animals are killed in automobile collisions every day, making them the leading cause of death for many animal species.

Destruction of habitat is one of the greatest threats to the world’s wildlife as well. As human development encroaches on natural areas, wildlife is squeezed into smaller and smaller areas, reducing movement, and affecting natural migrations, reproduction and behavior. Today, half the world’s original forests have disappeared, yet they are still being removed at a rate 10 times higher than the rate of regrowth.

Mother nature cannot support the force humanity is placing on the planet. Overconsumption and unsustainable human population growth are bringing about massive changes in the environment and endangering wildlife by disrupting ecosystems in numerous ways as well. Habitats and biodiversity are declining faster than at any other time in human history.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the global authority on species’ conservation status, 1 of 4 of the world’s mammals and over 40 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction due to human activity. While biodiversity and habitat decline can seem like a small concern, it will change the lives for all of us;, it has vital connections to the health and prosperity of humanity as a whole.

Habitat loss is a worldwide problem, but it starts locally. For areas that cannot be saved, we should assist in funding the creation of areas that will serve as a refuge for displaced wildlife instead. These makeshift homes mimic the natural habitats that allow plants to grow and animals to live healthily without the threat of devastation. Even just planting native plants and putting out a water source so that you can provide the food, water, cover, and places to raise young that wildlife needs to survive.

If there’s a stream in your backyard that has naturally been obstructed, take the time to fix it! There are many ways everyday people like us, can contribute to helping our environment that people don’t realize. Conservation organizations and community groups involved in ecosystem restoration have proven track records to ensure that these efforts produce the outcomes desired.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to help wildlife is to preserve the environment in which the animals live. Volunteer with these organizations in your area to restore native forests, grasslands and coastal ecosystems by planting native species, manually removing invasive plant species, and taking out old fences.

Saving these habitats is crucial in our world today. More people should be aware of how they can contribute on a local level. It starts with us. Thank you for listening and taking the time to read my concerns.

Liviya Harrison is a senior at Snohomish High School.

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