Habitat fragmentation a danger to more than just birds

Black bear kerri martin photographyA biologist sent a warning in a CBC interview, indicating that the growth of Sudbury will cause issues for wildlife. But the national news network pulled their punches – and the true scope of the issue of habitat fragmentation was missed.

The CBC interviewed Laurentian University’s Chris Blomme, who was on the air discussing the approval of a Sudbury subdivision.

“You're basically intruding into the habitat where the species generates young, has a nest, rears babies or nestlings,” he said. “And so as more and more of the farmland, per se, is diminished, those species become scarcer.”

Blomme is certainly correct – but the CBC didn’t push the interview along further, as they likely should have. Because if birds are being affected, you can be certain virtually every other species is, too.

As subdivisions are built – often on farmland (or former farmland) – developers take an often diverse area and limit its accessibility and resources, all while creating new passages and resources for wildlife. In some communities, this leads to conflict. Our visit to Cornwall in with Coyote Watch Canada in 2014 was an excellent demonstration of this. A small woodlot had been razed and a barrier placed next to a highway. Almost immediately, the movement of coyotes changed, leading to conflict.

In the Sudbury area, where an incredible backyard biodiversity ranges from black bears to raccoons, we can all but guarantee conflict will occur.

The issue of habitat fragmentation – amongst others – have led many communities in more populated areas to look to densification instead of traditional subdivision-type growth. Taller buildings, increased public transit, and a municipal-wide focus on ecosystem conservation allow for population growth without necessarily causing harm to vital habitat for wildlife.

Of course, regardless of how they grow, Sudbury will need to look to co-existence policies as the population of the Northern Ontario city builds. More people in a smaller area may help protect habitats, but it also creates new challenges, particularly with waste management.

We hope, in the future, the CBC pushes their interviews along logical lines to get to these more difficult – and important – truths.

Photo by Kerri Martin Photography


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