Forest Legacy Project

images of Koochiching Washington Forest Legancy Project

Effects of Forest Fragmentation

Dividing large and contiguous forests into smaller pieces is an issue of increasing importance as communities and development put more pressure on our existing land base. The USDA Forest Service defines forest fragmentation as "the splitting or isolating of patches of similar habitat..."

The effects of forest fragmentation are far reaching.

  • Fragmentation disrupts animal travel corridors and creates barriers that isolate populations from potential breeding opportunities.
  • Following fragmentation, habitat for forest species that favor forest interiors (such as orioles, tanagers, and wood thrushes) is lost and there is greater vulnerability to predators and nest robbers.
  • Species that cannot easily disperse, including reptiles and amphibians, are more likely than other species to be harmed by forest fragmentation.
  • Smaller remaining forests are more susceptible to invasive species, often resulting in a loss of species diversity.
  • The loss of forested lands almost certainly means the loss of recreational lands.
  • With smaller forests, the frequency of conflicts between people and wildlife increases.
  • Scenic views are lost, making the places we choose to live and visit less beautiful.
  • By losing forests, we are losing the ability to clean the air and water and buffer our environment from pollution.

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