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Trump’s Border Wall and its impact on Southern Ecosystems

Trump’s Border Wall and its impact on Southern Ecosystems

Trump’s Border Wall and its impact on Southern Ecosystems
April 26
11:53 2018

Most of us are familiar with President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a “wall.” This huge barrier would potentially run along the border between the Southern United States and Mexico.

Despite the current political atmosphere and our own opinions about whether or not we actually need a wall, there are environmental concerns that must be considered.

Our planet’s ecosystems are diversified and maintained by immigration patterns of the organisms that dwell within. Erecting a barrier would further fragment already struggling ecosystems and create a difficult obstacle that both plants and animals would have to contend with.

UNT Ecology Professor Dr. James Bednarz said “Our ecosystems rely on immigration and dispersal habits of both plant and animal species.”

“These functioning ecosystems help perform environmental services which we humans rely on.” Dr. Bednarz said.

An Environmental Service is a natural process that occurs within the environment. It provides a benefit to other organisms; an example is how oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis performed by plants.

As you may have guessed, constructing a barrier will limit not only human movement, as is the intention, but it will further restrict animals and plants.

Dr. Bednarz provides examples of organisms that would be put at a considerable disadvantage with the construction of the wall. “The wall would further jeopardize already endangered species such as the White Sided Jackrabbit and the Ocelot, both of which can be found near the border” Dr. Bednarz said.

When there are dispersal limitations, like a giant wall, these organisms will inevitably have an even more difficult time finding a mate for reproduction. While there are other challenges that the wall presents, the ability to find a suitable mate is extremely important for endangered and declining species.

Dr. Bednarz also notes that whatever proposal is enacted to secure the border should consider the ramifications to the environment. He is absolutely right. In our anthropocentric society, we often jump to conclusions without considering how the environment will be affected by our decisions. In a world suffering from over-population, global warming, and a lack of resources (and so on) we cannot afford to allow our environment and the biodiversity of our planet to suffer further.

There are many other solutions proposed instead of a wall.

Restoring the Rio Grande, for example, would greatly restore the degraded environment along the border.

The Rio Grande is a natural barrier and it has lost at least seven native fish species due to pollution, climate change, and neglect, according to the National Park Service.

Other suggestions include restoring infrastructure on both sides of the border, making it a safe and welcoming place for all.

“Electronic security measures or other solutions that ensure the safety and protection of the southern border ecosystem while still maintaining a secure border” Dr. Bendarz said.

Featured Image: Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Sean Rainey

Sean Rainey

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