Fragmenting Forests Impact Nearly 2,000 Species and Their Material Capabilities

Fragmenting Forests Impact Nearly 2,000 Species and Their Material Capabilities

Contributed by Marielle Grenade-Willis

Fragmentation of forest landscape for human infrastructure is increasingly becoming an environmental harbinger for biodiversity issues. A new study published in Nature: International Journal of Science, states that of the nearly 2,000 species examined in tropical areas spanning the Americas, Asia, and Africa, 39% were negatively impacted by the decline of suitable forest habitat. Amphibians, reptiles, and smaller mammals were also more prone to being adversely affected as they thrive best in the forest core, “at sites farther than 200-400 m from sharp high contrast forest edges.” Other activities like the harvesting of palm oil for beauty care products and packaged foods, have also decimated landscapes in areas such as Southeast Asia where orangutan populations have dropped by 80%. Our modern modes of transport for either ourselves or for our many modern commodities are unsustainable in that they not only degrades the ecosystem, but also impinge upon all of the central capabilities inherent in the native animals who inhabit these places. Most notably, an animal’s capabilities of life, bodily health, and material control over its environment would be subject to environmental fissure. Martha Nussbaum defines these capabilities as:

  1. Life – Being able to live to the end of a [human] life of normal length; not dying prematurely, or before one’s life is so reduced as to be not worth living.
  2. Bodily Health – Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter.
  3. Control Over One’s Environment (Material) – Being able to hold property (both land and movable goods), and having property rights on an equal basis with others; having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure.