Forest fragmentation affects biodiversity in the following ways:
a) The outright loss of habitat: Places that get cleared out for the purpose of industrialisation, building of railway tracks or simply setting up a civilisation can affect the species that have lived there for ages. Displacing their habitat and taking away their homes is as cruel as it sounds. Disrupting the harmony of the animals and creating a hindrance in their lives leads to a disruption in the whole equilibrium of the ecosystem.
Also, getting mixed with the animal kingdom can produce complicated viruses such as Ebola and the Covid-19, which get easily transferred from one human to another. It is a threat and risk to the human race; we should maintain basic distance and respect the peaceful and prevailing harmony among us.
b) Creation of forest edges that differ from the interior forest in many physical and biological ways, for e.g. the temperature, humidity predators, etc.: Forest fragmentation or habitat fragmentation often changes the microenvironment at the fragment edges, resulting in increased light levels, higher daytime temperature, higher wind speed and lower humidity. Each of these edge effects can have a severe impact on the vitality and composition of the species in the fragment and lead to disastrous mutations of the species living in that habitat. Species that are sensitive to the rise in the level of humidity. such as amphibians and herbaceous plants, can even get eliminated. Also, increased wind and lowering humidity can invite occasional forest fires.
We might have noticed instances like these in recent times, for example, in Australia and Amazon, where a huge part of the forests was burnt down, leaving the species living there homeless.
In India, we have witnessed the government ordering forest fragmentation for infrastructural purposes and the natives protesting against this order. To protect and preserve habitats, we all must stand up and raise our voice against those who only care about capitalistic and materialistic goals.
c) Disruption in the movement and dispersal patterns of forest and species: Ecological disturbances are events or forces of non-biological or biological origin that bring about mortality to organisms and changes in their spatial patterning in the ecosystem they inhabit. Disturbances play a major role in shaping structure and give shape to the individual population and character of the whole ecosystem. Minor disturbances include localised wind events, droughts, floods minor forest fires and disease outbreaks in the plants and animal population. In contrast, major scale disturbances involve large-scale wind events, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, ocean temperature changes stemming from El Nino, pollution and land-use conversions caused by humans.
Therefore, to curb these possibilities from taking place, all we have to do is not practice forest fragmentation for our benefit, or else it can affect the equilibrium of the ecosystem, and we as well will get affected by the it.
About the Author: Soumi Lahiri is a law student who thrives to make this world a better place not only for humans but also for all the coexisting organisms on Earth.