Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of plant and animal life in a particular region or ecosystem. Biodiversity can be discussed in terms of genetic diversity, species diversity, and habitat diversity. Habitat areas with more species, or greater diversity, have a better chance of recovering from human-induced and natural disturbances including exotic species introductions, storms, drought or flood. Increased biodiversity can lead to greater productivity, which can be translated into a greater amount of natural resources available for plant, animal and human populations.
Images courtesy of NBII Life
Habitat loss is identified as a significant factor in the decline of plant and animal species in the United States. As a result, a major focus of threatened and endangered species management strategies deals directly with the conservation of vital habitats. It is important to analyze and understand vital habitats, their natural cycles, and their relationships with the human built environment to help these ecosystems thrive and to aid in species conservation.
What are the issues?
The Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides for a number of activities to protect endangered and threatened species. The activities include the protection of vital habitat and the creation of a recovery plan for each listed species.
Endangered species conservation initiatives and private property rights are often in conflict. Private property owners may resist the designation of vital habitats, because they feel it could lower property values or increase the control of government agencies over private lands. Species conservationists fear that not enough areas are being designated as vital habitats, which could contribute to and accelerate species extinctions. Overall, it is important to recognize the crucial role that vital habitats play in the protection of threatened and endangered species.