Wildlife Corridors – Pennsylvania
With over half of its land area occupied by forests, Pennsylvania is a nature-lover’s haven. From the ruffed grouse, to the bog turtle, to the northern flying squirrel, the region is home to a remarkable array of species contributing to its rich biodiversity. Pennsylvania’s ecology is unique, located at the intersection of several ecological regions and river basins (the Ohio river Basin, Susquehanna River Basin). Extensive ecosystems benefit the state in a number of ways. The outdoor recreation and tourism industry brings in revenue in the multi-billions annually, providing residents with jobs and both tourists and residents with an array of unique activities to choose from. In addition, natural spaces for outdoor activity promote public health by encouraging physical activity. Wildlife corridors not only connect habitats, but communities as well, making them valuable to Pennsylvania’s wildlife and residents. While unchecked development has contributed to the loss and fragmentation of habitats, the state remains a natural landmark in need of both protection and restoration.
Habitat loss and fragmentation are the biggest drivers of species decline and extinction worldwide. Fragmentation reduces the ability of wildlife to migrate, find mates, disperse (establish new territories), and may limit their access to food and water. Fragmentation also limits wildlife’s ability to adapt to climate change. Connections northward and upward will be crucial as our climate warms to provide pathways to cooler climates, including mountain ranges.
Fragmented landscapes present danger not only to wildlife but to humans also. In 2013 Pennsylvania was an undisputed leader throughout the country in deer-vehicle crashes, at 115,000 incidents that year resulting in 14 deaths and 1,352 injuries in 2012. These concerns are only the tip of the iceberg, representing just some of the drivers behind our campaign to increase habitat connectivity.
We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. Globally we have lost 1 in 4 bird species in the last 50 years, half of the mammal species are rapidly decreasing, and many insect populations have completely disappeared. Species extinctions will continue to accelerate as habitat loss and fragmentation persist unchecked. The construction of new roads, pipelines, and buildings in Pennsylvania contribute to the splintering of habitats into smaller, disconnected spaces. Without action to reverse the effects of this fragmentation, more species will suffer, leading to a cascade of ecosystem impacts. The time to address these issues is now.
The Endangered Species Coalition has developed several strategies to promote wildlife corridors and address habitat fragmentation in Pennsylvania. The most significant way that we can influence the future of our natural spaces is by communicating our concerns to legislators. Building a support base through volunteer meetings, educational events, and coalition building will help the campaign gain traction and visibility, uniting organizations and individuals under a common goal. Tactics such as grassroots organizing, written media campaigns, and educational events take the campaign one step closer to connecting Pennsylvania’s habitats and protecting vulnerable species.
How Can I Help?
There are numerous ways to help us reach legislators and gain support for wildlife corridors, but we need to act quickly.
Email Lead Organizer Mireille Bejjani at email@example.com with any questions or for more information.