1 Tahrcountry Musings: What’s environmentally good for one area may be an environmental disaster for an adjacent area

Sunday, August 07, 2011

What’s environmentally good for one area may be an environmental disaster for an adjacent area

Shift in nesting ground of the long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) in Judea, Israel – An effect of habitat change
Guilad Friedmann, Yoram Yom-Tov, Uzi Motro and Yossi Leshem
Biological Conservation
Volume 144, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 402-406

Here is a good paper from Israel that I came across recently. It deals with afforestation in an area and its unintended effect on the environment.

Tel Aviv University researchers, Guilad Friedmann, Yoram Yom-Tov, Uzi Motro and Yossi Leshe after extensive research says planting a new forest is a venture that is fraught with lot of ecological imponderables. Indigenous species tend to migrate to neighboring habitats and what’s environmentally good for one may be detrimental for another one.
Friedemann et al studied two raptor species in the Judean Foothills, the long-legged buzzard and the short-toed eagle. The long-legged buzzard’s habitat is the open spaces of the Judean Mountains. They use the mountain cliffs for nesting and hunting. The afforestation scheme launched by the forest department forced the long-legged buzzards to migrate elsewhere. They have relocated themselves to the trees of the Judean Foothills which in turn has threatened the nesting ground and food source of the short-toed eagle, its original inhabitants.
The researcher tracked the movements of both species throughout breeding season by tagging four buzzards and three eagles. He analyzed the food remains to determine the extent of competition for food sources between the two raptor species.
The results clearly indicated that the buzzards have usurped the eagles' habitat. The eagles were losing out.
Here is a case where afforestation, instead of a positive contribution to the environment, was the cause of habitat destruction. This should serve as a cautionary note for us. Detailed impact studies need to be done before we embark on any ambitious project. The researcher says a broader consideration of not just of the directly affected area, but of neighboring areas as well needs to be taken in to account. He adds that in this case, harm might have been avoided by setting aside a swathe of land where the buzzards could continue to nest and hunt. This conclusion has broad implications for our landscape planning and policy implementation. 

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