Infrastructure Disturbances

Urbanization, Transportation & Industry – The rapid expansion of urban and suburban sprawl around the world has contributed significantly to the loss and degradation of important habitats and ecosystem services. Regardless of income, their denaturing quality reverberates far beyond the shanty towns and paved subdivisions as the problems of natural resource depletion, species loss, waste disposal, and pollution grow unabated. Transportation infrastructure and activities cause serious land disturbances, accelerate habitat fragmentation and biodiversity loss, and adversely impact fragile coastal/marine ecosystems like coral reefs and mangroves. The ecological impact of recreation/tourism is an amalgam of urbanization and transportation that produces its own unique ecological degradation. Manufacturing industries use large quantities of non-renewable resources and energy while accounting for a highly disproportionate amount of air/water pollution and waste management problems.

Dams & Hydrology – Freshwater ecosystems have suffered the most serious losses and degradation as a result of human activities such as the construction of dams, draining of wetlands, diversion of rivers, capture of freshwater runoff, and pumping of ground water. These activities have had repercussions throughout virtually all terrestrial and marine ecosystems resulting in the destruction of aquatic habitats and loss of biodiversity, water pollution and blocked nutrient flows, and the disruption of natural flooding regimes.

Fire & Weather Events – Fire and weather events have always been a major agent of ecosystem loss and degradation as well as recovery and survival. For example, hurricanes contribute to coastal regeneration by bringing sediment and nutrients to wetlands and mangroves. Unlike weather-related disturbances, prescribed fires can often significantly benefit the health of many grassland and forest ecosystems.

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