Image of a forest with a pathway running through the center representing ecological connectivity.
October 23, 2020

Ecological Connectivity & it’s Global Importance

Ecological connectivity is gaining international attention as an important way to help humans and animals make connections. Ecological corridors act as a pathway so wildlife and plants can move and adapt. This ability to move is crucial to the survival of ecosystems.  

What is Ecological Connectivity?

On July 7, 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released a set of global guidelines for protecting the ecological connectivity of nature. The IUCN is a collection of government and civil society organizations. They provide knowledge and tools to enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together. The report focuses on conserving connectivity through ecological networks and corridors. The goal of the guidelines is to provide a set definition of ecological corridors including ways to maintain, enhance, and restore connectivity, along with recommendations to restore and formalize ecological corridors and networks. 

Ecological connectivity is the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth. Ecological connectivity through the means of ecological corridors is critical to the conservation of biodiversity as these corridors foster the movement of individuals, genetic exchange, climate change adaptation, and migration. Protected areas are the basis of conservation, yet fragmented areas with no connectivity are not as effective as areas with high connectivity. The IUCN suggests creating “ecological networks for conservation” that are designed to ensure connectivity is maintained and enhanced. 

The IUCN defines an ecological network as a system of core habitats connected by ecological corridors which is established and maintained to preserve biodiversity in fragmented areas. An ecological corridor is a space that will restore connectivity of different protected areas through the means of linkages and safe passages. By connecting these areas, species will have the ability to move freely, creating larger intact ecosystems 

This ecological network will positively impact the environment while simultaneously strengthening certain social and economic values. Ecological corridors can provide a number of recreation values including bike paths and walkways. They may also help define a community’s sense of place. Corridors will also provide integrated wildlife and natural pathways that will add beauty to any community.

Wild Virginia’s Work

Wild Virginia is dedicated to protecting the environment and ensuring wild land stays wild. Protected areas are now more important than ever. Many economically focused projects, like the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline, involve the destruction of natural areas that will harm the natural environment and its inhabitants. This report shows that protecting ecological connectivity is becoming a global concern. Wild Virginia is working to restore connectivity here in our backyard. Please support our work and get involved!

The IUCN’s report outlines ecologically and economically feasible ways to protect the environment and integrate ecological corridors into local areas. The idea of connectivity and its positive impacts on biological diversity allow the potential to meet the needs of present and future generations. Protecting ecological corridors is  critical to ensure healthy ecosystems.