When it comes to land clearing activities, decisions about what to remove and how to open the trail must be taken with great care. Human activities such as food production and urban development have a huge impact on wildlife, and the physical process of clearing the land can lead to the direct death of any animal that cannot escape in time. Even if animals manage to flee, they are left with no natural habitat to return to. Forest WBMPs (Wildlife Best Management Practices) are voluntary practices that aim to prevent and minimize the loss of endangered species due to forestry operations.
However, they do not address any endangered species included in the federal list, nor are they designed for use during tree removal or clearing operations associated with development or other activities with a non-forestry purpose. The consequences of large-scale land clearing are devastating for wildlife, their habitats and even the climate. Clearing destroys and fragments habitats, endangers animals, increases soil erosion, contributes to pollution, increases the risk of floods and even exacerbates the effects of climate change. The more land is cleared, the less available habitat animals will have to survive and reproduce, leading to a decline in their population.
Deforestation also has global repercussions. Oxygen production decreases and carbon dioxide increases when large portions of trees are removed, increasing the negative factors of climate change. This is especially true when land use and deforestation occur on a large scale, such as what happens in the Amazon rainforest. People cut down trees in order to use the land for agriculture, development or some other purpose.
This clearing, also known as deforestation, often occurs so that people can raise livestock or other sources of meat for consumption, or grow plants for the production of palm or soy oil. Researchers estimate that people cut down up to 15 billion trees every year to clear land for human use. Fortunately, there are ways to protect wildlife during land clearing activities. The full manual “Suggested Protocol for Responsible Management of Wildlife Affected by Deforestation and the Modification of Wildlife Habitats” can be found on the Critter Control website. This protocol provides practical advice on how to reduce the impact of land clearing on wildlife and their habitats.