Urban Sprawl And Wildlife Essay

1276 words - 5 pages

The conquering and development of natural land has in the past, been seen as a mark of human civilization. In the United States, our progress is often measured by growth and development, but should this be re-examined? There are many opinions on the subject of urban sprawl and its effects on wildlife, but one thing is for certain, we are expanding. From 1955 to 2005, urban and suburban areas grew by 300%, however, the population only increased by 75% over the same period (Ewing, Kostyack and Chen). According to NatureServe, a non-profit conservation organization, urban sprawl threatens one of every three endangered species in the United States. NatureServe’s analysis states, “rare and endangered species data shows that three-fifths (60 percent) of the nation’s rarest and most imperiled species are found within designated metropolitan areas, with the 35 fastest growing large metropolitan areas home to nearly one-third (29 percent) of these species. (Ewing, Kostyack and Chen) Nevertheless, other groups believe urban sprawl is beneficial to wildlife. The Landscape Analysis Lab at Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee argues that suburbs are doing more for the bird populations in Tennessee than the government supported tree plantations. Their data shows more diverse bird populations making suburbs their home. They find the housing developments more suitable since they are likely to have a wide variety of tree and plant species and other structures that provide diverse nesting opportunities, whereas the tree plantations usually only plant one type of tree (Miller). So, the debate continues, are humans encroaching on wildlife habitat and posing a risk to their survival, or do suburban environments with their lush lawns and water gardens provide a compatible living area?

National Resources Defense Council analyst, Jutka Terris, and author of Nature in the Suburbs, Jane Shaw, agree that urban sprawl is moving in to wildlife habitats. However, they disagree on whether or not it is harming the wildlife populations in those areas. Terris says “roads and sprawling neighborhoods are replacing pristine wildlife habitats at an alarming pace, putting the survival and reproduction of plants and animals at risk.” Terris also believes it may be “the problem for U.S. wildlife in the 21st century”. (Terris) According to Terris, one victim of sprawl is the Florida panther, which has been reduced to a population of 30 to 50 adults. Furthermore, in the Sonoran Desert many plant species are affected, which also affects the animals that rely on those plants. She goes on to give numerous examples of animals and plants that are being harmed that spreads across the U.S., supporting the fact it is widespread.
Yet, Shaw concludes, “wild animals increasingly find suburban life in the United States to be attractive.” (Shaw) She explains the suburbs are ideal places for wildlife, citing there are 32 known breeding pairs of bald eagles in Virginia, a species...

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