US: Scientists Warn about Threat to Biodiversity from Border Wall

amerikanische Flagge
Pixabay CC0

A recently published Viewpoint article co-authored by eighteen scientists warns about harmful impacts of constructing a border wall between the United States and Mexico. The report is focused on the effects of a wall on biodiversity conservation and binational cooperation on research and conservation. Lead author, Robert Peters, invited scientists to “endorse” the report. More than 2,800 scientists from at least 50 countries had endorsed the article as of August 6, 2018.

According to the Viewpoint article published in BioScience on July 24, “In North America, along the 3200-kilometer US-Mexico border, fence and wall construction over the past decade and efforts by the Trump administration to complete a continuous border “wall” threaten some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions. Already-built sections of the wall are reducing the area, quality, and connectivity of plant and animal habitats and are compromising more than a century of binational investment in conservation.”

The authors warn about the destruction of wildlife habitat and losses to scientific research resulting from a continuous and impermeable wall. Among the concerns are the cascading effects that can result from fragmenting species habitat, such as the potential to disrupt populations of pollinators or on the species that help to control populations of disease carrying organisms. This has real impacts on the ecosystems and human populations on both sides of the border.

“This would be the only wall on earth that would split a continent,” said Jennifer Miller, a co-author of the report and a senior scientist at Defenders of Wildlife.

The report suggests some solutions to address the potentially harmful impacts of the wall. The authors urge Congress to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) follow U.S. environmental laws; identify species, habitats and ecological resources at risk from barrier construction and security operations; design barriers that permit maximum wildlife permeability where possible; and purchase or restore replacement habitats when environmental harm is inevitable. The authors also call on DHS to “facilitate scientific research in the borderlands to complement and assist environmental evaluation and mitigation efforts.”

(America Institute of Biological Sceinces)

Robert Peters et al. (2018):
Nature Divided, Scientists United: US–Mexico Border Wall Threatens Biodiversity and Binational Conservation
BioScience, biy063, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy063