Habitat destruction is considered to be the leading cause of wildlife extinctions today. Human activities have altered or destroyed 99% of the North American tallgrass prairie and 50% of North American wetlands. Worldwide, 94% of temperate deciduous forest have been severely disturbed or destroyed, as have 35% of mangrove ecosystems, 20% of coral reefs, and significant percentages of many other formerly diverse, productive ecosystems.
As a result, experts estimate that the current rate of animal and plant extinctions is 10,000 times higher than the normal “background” rate and predict that as many as 50% of all living species may become extinct by 2100. Many observers now refer to the present era as the “Sixth Great Extinction,” equating it to mass extinction events of the past. The largest of these, the Permian-Triassic extinction event, killed 96% of all marine species and 70% of all land species. It took more than 30 million years for vertebrate species to recover their previous level of diversity.
There is also growing concern about loss of “ecosystem services” as a result of habitat destruction. Ecosystem services are functions performed naturally by healthy ecosystems, such as purifying air and water, pollinating plants, decomposing wastes, reducing the impact of floods, producing wild foods and medicines, regulating climate, and more. For example, the devastating floods in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China in 2010 were exacerbated by deforestation. Instead of being absorbed by the roots and leaves of trees, unusually heavy rains in the region rushed in torrents down bare hillsides, carrying soil and debris with them and swelling rivers that inundated the countryside, displacing millions.
One way to help preserve biodiversity and the valuable ecosystem services that come with it is to start a habitat restoration service. Habitat restoration services work with private individuals, businesses, governments, and non-profits to restore critical (and not so critical) habitat on public and private lands.
Starting a Habitat Restoration Service
Before starting your habitat restoration company, it’s important to consider what types of habitats you are interested in restoring. Some companies specialize in a particular type of habitat, such as aquatic habitats, woodlands, or prairies, and work nationwide (or even worldwide) to improve those types of habitats, while other focus on a particular region and work to improve all types of ecosystems found within that region.
Depending on the type of habitat being restored, habitat restoration companies may offer ecological consulting and landscape design services, operate or partner with native plant nurseries and landscaping services to replant native habitats, provide earth moving services to restore wetlands, provide chemical or mechanical brush removal or invasive plant control services, conduct prescribed burns, construct nest boxes, artificial cavities, and other habitat enhancements, and even restock native fish or wildlife species. Some services may require insurance or licensing to perform.
Three Habitat Restoration Services Bringing the Earth Back To Life
Go Native, Inc. is dedicated to preserving and restoring the wild and open places in California. Go Native started as a native plant nursery in Montara, CA in 1996 and expanded to offer habitat restoration services for California ecosystems, including invasive plant management, erosion control, resource management, and more.
Based in Lake Forest, CA, Natures Image is a full service habitat restoration company offering services throughout the western United States for a range of ecosystems, including desert, chaparral, oak savanna, woodlands, marsh, and more.
Trout Headwaters, Inc. is an habitat restoration company located in Livingston, MT. Founded in 1995, THI offers cost-effective, low maintenance restoration rivers, streams, and wetlands.