Natural habitats suffer from a range of natural factors and man-made factors that threaten the plants and animals that call these habitats home. Habitat loss can endanger species and push invasive species into new territories–threatening other habitats. While there is a growing trend to live more sustainably, our industrialized world is responsible for most of the habitat loss.
Environmental agencies that recognize the destructive outcome of habitat loss engage in critical habitat mitigation efforts to stop destruction and promote the rebuilding of natural habitats. In some cases, these activities are directed by local governments.
What is Critical Habitat Mitigation
Government agencies that protect the environment or wildlife recognize a number of factors that contribute to the degradation of natural habitats, ultimately threatening various species. Some of these habitats are essential, meaning that diminished quality will lead to the extinction of a species. Some habitats are important, promoting the sustainability of a species but ultimately not tied directly to its survival.
Additionally, some habitats are considered irreplaceable. These habitats–like rainforests, cannot be restored within a feasible amount of time. Other habitats have a high restoration potential as certain activities are reduced or relocated from an area, the natural habitat rebounds.
Natural habitats include things like:
- Natural Springs
- Forested Areas
- Grass Fields
These two categories are used to direct critical habitat mitigation efforts. Essential habitats receive high priority while important habitats might receive a lesser priority depending on need. Critical habitat mitigation efforts will identify potential threats, assign priority, and define mitigation strategies to stop further damage or begin repairing existing damage to natural habitats.
Related: NEPA Environmental Assessments
Common Guidance Strategies
Agencies tasked with critical habitat mitigation use a series of guidance strategies to direct their actions. For example, an irreplaceable and essential habitat like a natural spring would employ the goal of zero loss of habitat quality using the strategy of avoidance. This means that local government or park officials governing the area might restrict access to the natural spring.
Another example would be an essential habitat in a salmon spawning stream would have a goal of no net loss of habitat quantity or quality. To achieve this goal, the environmental agency tasked with managing this section of the stream would utilize proximity measures to monitor the habitat and restrict access as needed.
How habitats are managed depends largely on what the goal for mitigation is. For some habitats, there is a hard line with zero loss of habitat expected. For others, it comes down to a measure of no net loss or an effort to simply minimize the impact of other factors.
Common mitigation strategies:
- Avoidance: to restrict traffic or activity to a habitat.
- Proximity: To monitor activity and restrict access as necessary.
- Activity limited to actions that improve habitat conditions.
- Activity managed to minimize the impact on natural habitats.
Habitat mitigation does not impact private landowners. The government cannot take ownership or manage activities on privately owned land. And the presence of critical habitat on private land does not establish a preserve or conservation area. It also does not allow the government or the public access to private land. The restrictions and activities set forth by these measures offer public protection against the future development of restricted land only.
For federal agencies, this means that they are prohibited from destroying designated habitats. It also means that land management and development projects must be cleared to ensure they do not negatively impact a designated critical habitat.
HANA Resources is a leading provider of drone-assisted technologies for environmental monitoring. Learn more about our progress monitoring solutions today.
What Factors are Used to Determine a Critical Habitat?
Biologists and other environmental scientists may use a number of factors when deciding if land fits the definition of critical habitat. Here are some common features:
- Is there ample space for population growth and the normal behavior of the species?
- Does the area provide a natural shelter necessary for the survival of the species?
- Does the area meet the physiological needs of the species?
- Are there reproduction sites for breeding or seed dispersal?
While environmental concerns are paramount, some critical habitats may be excluded if their is a negative economic impact or threat to national security.
HANA Resources Biological Studies
HANA Resources is a leading environmental consulting firm that specializes in using technology to gather data and conduct assessments to support habitat restoration and critical habitat mitigation activities.
Our team of scientists, technologists, and engineers provide innovative solutions that blend technology and science to provide complete and accurate data for biological assessments. We work with special-status species permits, botanical surveys, avoidance and minimization recommendations, fish and wildlife, and much more.
Founded in 1995, HANA has been providing exceptional, science-backed data collection and surveying reports for more than two decades. We serve government agencies and commercial operations of all sizes with state-of-the-art, proprietary technologies. Our biological services division can help inventory endangered species or monitor habitat mitigation activities using our minimally-invasive drone technologies.
Drone Services by HANA Resources
One of the leading services offered by our environmental firm is a wide range of drone-assisted technologies. With our drones, we can access critical habitats and provide real-time progress updates on mitigation efforts using aerial mapping, plant health assessments, thermal imaging, and more.
We believe that better environmental management strategies are possible with the right technologies. That’s why our team works tirelessly to make the right technologies accessible to the people and groups tasked with keeping our ecosystems healthy.
Related: Plant Health Flight for OCWD
Final Thoughts on Critical Habitat Mitigation
Every species of plant and animal on the earth is interconnected through a series of habitats. As one endangered species dies out or one habitat is erased by industrialization, the lives of all other species on the planet are impacted in some small (or big) way.
As we learn more about the impact of biodiversity on our own lives, like the impact on human nutrition through food production, managing critical habitats and safeguarding the earth’s natural resources becomes increasingly important. HANA Resources is committed to helping critical habitat mitigation and restoration activities protect and restore the earth.
HANA Resources is an innovative environmental technology firm here to help you collect data and monitor the progress of your mitigation efforts. Learn more today.