Thursday, March 27, 2008

Draw The Line... Again

One of the most overlooked, yet increasingly pressing issues in conservation biology, is the current location of human-implemented borders. These include borders between countries, as well as borders on natural reserves of protected areas.

First, consider physical barriers between two nations, such as regions of fencing dividing Mexico and the United States. Due to the increasing rate of illegal immigration in the US, the government has chosen to remedy the situation by building massive fences. In fact, in the election year Washington plans to complete 670 miles of it. The problem? Now people will change their point of entry, clogging the same paths that some animals, like the rare jaguar, choose to use as well. Jaguar biologist Emil McCain said, "The border barriers are directly linked with the funneling of people into the last remaining habitats. Jaguars are very solitary animals, they can't move freely where there are a lot of people."

Now, consider other borders, as in the perimeters of natural reserves or national parks. In many cases, these borders were initially devised in order to preserve the habitats of a threatened or endangered species. So how could they be causing harm now? Well, as we all know, the climate is rapidly changing, and in turn has a huge impact on habitat. As the habitat changes, the animals within that habitat will likely relocate in order to live an optimal environment. The borders could potentially prevent their migration.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider where fences are built, and where borders are established.

No comments: