Focus Challenge: Habitat
Habitats provide food, shelter, water, and resources that animals, plants, and people all need to survive. People have also found uses for habitats for farms and agriculture, roads, and buildings. However, when one part of the habitat is disrupted or the entire habitat is lost, it can make it very difficult for animals, plants, and people to survive. As resources disappear, animals can become endangered and are at risk of extinction. Some habitats are much more threatened than others, such as rainforests, coral reefs, wetlands, farm fields, and old-growth forests. Thankfully there are ways we can fight to protect and restore habitats!
Climate Change and Habitat Loss
One of the less obvious contributors to climate change is habitat loss. However, after the burning of fossil fuels, habitat loss is the most significant source of climate change. When forests, marshes, grasslands, and reefs are harmed or destroyed for agricultural, industrial, or residential use, this releases even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This can be made even worse by burning, which is a common practice to clear land in many countries land.
The United Nations concluded in a 2018 report that the most effective way to fight climate change might be to save habitats and plant trees, which can take carbon dioxide out of the air through photosynthesis and carbon sequestration.
- How do people use habitat space?
- How do animals use habitat space?
- Are there similarities or differences in how habitat space is needed?
- What are ways we could protect an existing habitat?
- What are ways we could restore a habitat that has been lost or degraded?
- Is this a good solution for everyone, or just certain people?
- How might this affect more than just one animal?
- How can we learn more from different perspectives?
- How can we use our understanding to help wildlife?
Interested in growing your understanding of changes in a habitat? Check out the activities below! These can be distributed directly to students through your virtual classroom or sent via email, or can be printed and distributed to students in person.
- Introductory (recommended for K-5 students)
- Advanced (recommended for 6-12 students)
Reporting Your Results
Make sure to keep track of everything you do and share as much of your story as possible, such as:
- How many events or programs did you create or host? What were they?
- How many habitats did you work on or create?
- How many acres or miles were you able to protect or restore?
- How many plants did you distribute or plant?
- What were you hoping to accomplish?
- What immediate and future implications does your work have on local animals and people