12 Major Causes of Habitat Loss

Amidst the wide range of adversities that have plagued our beloved earth, habitat loss is one that has distinctly affected the inhabitants’ existence and biodiversity. According to this image from Bioexplorer, habitat loss is one of the six (6) major threats to biodiversity. So, what are the causes of habitat loss?

Well, before we get into that, let’s try to understand that when we talk about habitat, we are talking about where living things, including plants, animals, and humans, live and perform their daily activities. This can be the water bodies, soil, trees, land surfaces, etc. So, we can say that Earth is a big ball of habitat for everyone.

However, as mentioned, recent events and human activity have negatively impacted our habitat, destroying some important ecosystems while steadily deteriorating others.

Information from a tweet from UN Biodiversity has given us an insight into habitat loss. Habitat loss is the major cause of the extinction and endangerment of many species, be they birds, land animals, or marine animals. The loss of habitat also hurts humans despite being the primary cause of habitat loss.

Although humans have been modifying the land for thousands of years, the last 300 years, particularly the last 70, have seen a significant increase in land usage and habitat disruption due to industrialization and population development.

Major Causes of Habitat Loss

Listed below are the major causes of habitat loss.

  • Agriculture
  • Logging
  • Non-biodegradable Waste
  • Land Conversion
  • Water Development
  • Pollution
  • Fracking
  • Trawling
  • Global Warming
  • Drought
  • Wildfires
  • Natural Disasters

1. Agriculture

One of the main causes of habitat and biodiversity loss is our food system. Heavy pesticide use and overgrazing are two examples of industrial farming practices that lead to soil contamination, erosion, and deterioration.

Mammals, insects, and birds’ habitats can be destroyed by clearing land of forests or mowing natural grassland to make way for farms. Although people turned woods and prairies into farms long ago, agriculture is mostly to blame for losing habitat.

Redeveloping protected sites for high-priced food and biofuel crops is in increasing demand. Additionally, efforts to irrigate fields and provide water for farm animals may impact habitat by introducing water to an area that was previously dry or removing water from another.

This issue is particularly acute in the Amazon, where many animals live in tropical rainforests. Cattle ranching causes 80% of the deforestation in the area, and by 2030, 27% of the Amazon biome may be treeless.

The demand for food is rising along with the world’s population, which means that by 2050, 1.3 million square miles of habitat will likely be turned into farms.

2. Logging

Logging is another major factor contributing to the loss of forests worldwide. Due to the demand for wood and paper goods, about thirty per cent of the world’s tree species are in danger of going extinct.

Clear-cut logging destroys entire forests, while selective logging involves the removal of really valuable trees. Because removing a single tree damages the remaining hundreds of trees, both methods destroy habitats.

Logging seriously damages the forest’s ecosystem. When trees are removed, soil erodes because they naturally absorb water and supply nutrients to the soil. Reduced tree cover also affects light penetration, resulting in new ecological circumstances that cannot sustain the same range of species.

The roads constructed for logging alter stream sediment patterns. Cutting down trees that would naturally fall into streams damages aquatic habitats and eliminates thermal cover. To lessen the harm, a balance between the logging industry’s needs and the preservation of forest health is necessary.

3. Non-biodegradable Waste

The environment is becoming increasingly concerned about the large-scale creation of non-biodegradable garbage, such as plastics, which is destroying the habitats in which they are found.

Materials that break down quickly due to microbial activity are considered non-biodegradable materials. Materials that can host the growth of hazardous microbes include pesticides, metals, plastic bottles, glassware, batteries, rubber, and nuclear waste.

When disposed of in water bodies, they obstruct sunlight and prevent the release or generation of oxygen, rendering the marine habitat unsuitable for marine animals. They also displace ground-dwelling species in terrestrial habitats, depriving these vital species of oxygen.

4. Land Conversion

Even during this economic downturn, formerly supported wildlife habitat areas are being converted to parking lots, office parks, highways, housing developments, and strip malls.

Due to development, deforestation may have a detrimental effect on a wide variety of animal species. A field might be mowed to improve the area’s aesthetics or to deliberately keep wildlife out of a developed area.

When people fill up wetlands, it is another instance of instantaneous habitat devastation. Usually, we fill in marshes to make room for more structures, such as homes or offices.

In some situations, the law requires you to build a new wetland area somewhere else if you are filling in an existing wetland. However, many species are lost, and wetlands support some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

5. Water Development

Water chemistry and hydrology are altered when nutrients cannot move downstream due to dams and other water diversions that siphon off and disconnect flows. When the Colorado River reaches the Sea of Cortez during the dry season, it has very little to no water.

6. Pollution

Pollution primarily affects freshwater species. Over time, pollutants in wetlands, rivers, and lakes enter estuaries and the food chain. These pollutants include untreated sewage, mining waste, acid rain, fertilizers, and pesticides.

7. Fracking

The extensively used process of fracking, which releases gas and oil into the atmosphere, has a well-documented negative impact on the environment. Pollution of the air and water by contaminants leads to widespread habitat destruction.

Additionally, the industrialization of rural areas through drilling infrastructure fragments habitats and disturbs wildlife. When the construction and maintenance of pipelines and access roads disrupt the continuity of existing habitats, the amount of edge habitat increases.

This poses a challenge to species that choose the interior of forests because they lack the adaptations necessary to withstand rising soil temperatures, more wind, and more sunlight. However, organisms, such as invasive plant species that flourish in fringe habitats, can overtake and upset an ecosystem’s equilibrium.

8. Trawling

The act of dragging large, weighty nets down the seafloor is known as trawling. (An underwater bulldozer the size of multiple football fields comes to mind.) The ocean’s continental shelves provide most of the fish that humans eat. These harmful trawling nets are used in these naturally occurring environments, which are abundant in species.

Ancient rocks are dredged up, and seafloor sediment is moved by trawling. It damages plants and animals, upends the structure of habitats, and has an ecosystem-wide impact.

Many different kinds of animals live on coral, and when trawling destroys that habitat, larger fish like sharks suffer, and prey species become less abundant. Global ocean environments differ; thus, a localized strategy might be needed to make these risky fishing techniques more sustainable.

9. Global Warming

One process that human activity has contributed to is global warming. Deforestation and burning fossil fuels have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. The atmosphere retains solar heat due to an increase in carbon dioxide.

Global warming is significantly degrading polar bear habitats because of the melting sea ice in the Arctic. Polar bears find it harder to swim from beach to ice since the sea ice platforms are receding.

This makes it more difficult for them to hunt seals. Polar bears are probably only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to animals that will be impacted by global warming.

10. Drought

One of the main factors contributing to desertification is drought, which causes a significant loss of habitat and biodiversity. A region is experiencing a drought when little to no water is available, which is problematic because plants and animals need water to thrive.

During droughts, the majority of the local species migrate to a suitable place; only a relatively small number of species can adapt to the conditions and remain in the area.

When there aren’t enough species in a region, it gets deserted, and plants die off because there isn’t enough water to bring sunshine to vulnerable parts. This would kill off some other delicate species and cause habitat loss.

11. Wildfires

Wildfires are another offender that can be categorized as either naturally occurring or man-made habitat devastation. Forest fires can occur due to human error or intentionality. Lightning strikes can also result in very serious flames. In any case, animals that inhabit degraded forests or grasslands may suffer greatly.

12. Natural Disasters

Habitat destruction may occur as a result of natural catastrophes. Natural catastrophes that can cause great harm include tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. Earthquakes have the power to shift land physically, and they may also be connected to subsequent tsunamis.

Land erosion and vegetation destruction are two consequences of flooding. Tornadoes can physically uproot trees and crush surrounding plants with scattered debris.


Because natural ecosystems affect us all, whether directly or indirectly, we need to collaborate to address the reasons behind habitat loss. What will we do if our habitat is destroyed?


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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