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© Barry Draper

Defending Habitat

Overview

Our planet's incredible array of wildlife occupies an equally diverse variety of habitats, from the frozen tundra to the sizzling desert. When these habitats are threatened, so too are the plants and animals that call these places home. Today, we live in an age where wildlife habitat is experiencing more pressure from humans than ever before.

Agriculture, industrial development and urban sprawl have destroyed, degraded, and fragmented large swaths of habitat in North America, continually forcing wildlife to cope with less space, fewer resources and increased human interaction. Climate change is also wreaking havoc with habitats around the world. Some, like the Arctic coastal lands, are thawing and sea ice is simply disappearing. Other habitat types are shifting, affecting migration patterns and altering where wildlife can find food, shelter, and potential mates. Climate change is also warming waters and contributing to sea level rise and excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing ocean acidification and changing ocean habitats. carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing ocean acidification and changing ocean habitats.

For decades, Defenders of Wildlife has played a leading role in helping shape smart policies to conserve wildlife and habitats on public lands and waters. A large portion of our habitat work focuses on our national wildlife refuges, national forests, national monuments, and other public lands and waters, as these areas represent some of the last, best places for wildlife to thrive. But we also work extensively on private lands, working in partnership with private landowners and state and tribal agencies to encourage people to protect and restore key habitats on private, tribal and state lands.