Wildlife and wildlife habitats are increasingly under threat from the environmental consequences of mnakind’s unsustainable activities. Global warming, acid rain and air pollution all pose serious threats to many faunal and floral species, in additions to the problems they face as a result of deforestation and other land-use changes for agriculture and urbanisation. It is believed by many scientists that global biodiversity is diminishing as a result of mankind’s impacts.
Freshwater acidification can be directly harmful to many species of fish, amphibians and water-dwelling invertebrates, with indirect consequences for many mammals and birds. Air pollutants can also be harmful to wildlife directly regardless of the effects of acid rain. Species particularly at risk include soft-bodied invertebrates like worms, moist skinned amphibians and various types of vegetation. Perhaps the most threatening of environmental impacts to wildlife is climate change. Global average surface temperatures is projected to rise by 2 to 3C by the end of the 21st century, or 0.2 to 0.3C per decade. It is currently believed that most ecosystems can withstand at most a 0.1C global temperature change per decade, before experiencing severe ecological stresses, leading in some cases to species extinction.
The Convention on Biological Diversity, negotiated at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, provides the framework for nation states to implement strategies to protect wildlife and their habitats. Following the implementation of the Convention in 1994, the UK’s national Biodiversity Action Plan has co-ordinated activity to conserve and enhance biodiversity in this country. Wildlife protection has often focused on special reserves which contain habitats and species which must be maintained. But there is a risk that populations become smaller, fragmented and vulnerable to extinction. Their long-term survival, and overall enhancement of wildlife, depends on action in cities, towns and the countryside as a whole.