Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Habitat Loss

While carpooling to work over the last year, we've notice the incredible growth around Summerville and its unceasing march toward Cypress Swamp (headwaters of the Ashley River). Ridgeville is all that stands between Cypress Swamp and Four Holes Swamp, which is home to the Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest.

The reported slowdown in the housing market may be a factor in the acres of land cleared off of Old Orangeburg Road with but three partially-completed homes upon it. The land, however, is already a moonscape. Down the road, land continues to be cleared.

Habitat loss is a major threat to species of all sorts, but especially birds. Not only do birds have specific habitat requirements for breeding and foraging, many travel vast distances between their wintering grounds and their breeding grounds. These long-distance travelers need habitat along the migration route to rest and replenish their energy. Flying over South Carolina, Four Holes Swamp looks like a giant, green vascular network drawing life-giving water into the spectacularly-diverse swamp habitat. The swamp calls for birds to stop, rest, or set up home. Many do, but the land around the swamp is becoming less and less green.

While preparing a lesson for the upcoming South Carolina Geographic Alliance Geofest teacher workshop, I came upon this editorial cartoon by Bruce Beattie of the Daytona Beach News and Journal. I think the birds would be the first to ask, "Do you really need that many within 10 miles? Do you really need a new Eckerd across from the new Walgreens? Is that an effective use of natural space?"

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