Reduce Deforestation and Increase Connectivity in fragmented Landscapes
Aisling Usun Bagly
CSO Platform for Reform - Environmental Sector
Urbanization has been increasing with the growth in human population and the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas. This has increased pressure on our natural resources. Forests are converted into housing areas, industrial sites and agriculture especially oil palm plantations for economic purposes. Forests within protected areas continue to be logged, leading to more fragmented forest. Deforestation also increases the chances for more wildlife to be poached or hunted. As wildlife lose their habitat, they end up encroaching in human settlements (Human-Wildlife conflict). Habitat fragmentation leads to small and isolated remnant plant and animal populations which lead to genetic drift, inbreeding and a reduction of gene flow that would substantially reduce genetic variation of the remnant population. Local communities who are dependent on forest resources for their livelihoods also suffer with the depletion of forest resource. Deforestation is also another factor that is contributing towards water and air pollution as well as climate change.
Value(s) and Belief(s):
It is important for humans to learn to co-exist with nature. A proper forest management system needs to be implemented alongside sustainable development to combat climate change. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) should be properly conducted before any development takes place within a certain area.
Proposal of Solution:
For effective conservation of forest biodiversity, it is vital to maintain and enhance connectivity in fragmented landscapes. This will help ensure the health of the forest and avoid any genetic drifts among flora and fauna species. It is the natural behaviour of wildlife to roam and seek food resources. Providing wildlife larger areas of healthy forest to roam would help minimize human-wildlife conflict at the same time. The government needs to connect forest reserves and National Parks increasing the size of Totally Protected Area (TPA). At the same time, they must acknowledge the rights of local communities who depend on the forest for their livelihoods.
Deforestation is a key contributor to human-caused climate change. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Social Impact Assessments (SIA) must be properly conducted before any logging activity. These activities should be made available to the public and not kept hidden or private and confidential.
New Urbanization Planning
Another problem we face are the many new construction projects while there are plenty of abandoned developed sites (offices, shop lots and malls). There needs to be proper planning in place to ensure companies use available space instead of developing another forested area for another site which is not needed in the first place. New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types.
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