The border area between the U.S. and Mexico is home to some of North America’s greatest biodiversity and rich terrain which includes forests, grasslands and salt marshes. The land is home to more than 1,500 native animal and plant species according to a paper which was published in BioScience on July 24.
The paper which was written by Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo warned that some of the species would potentially become extinct in the U.S. if President Trump builds his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Nearly 3,000 scientists signed on to back the paper which encourages scientists from all around the world to lend their support towards solutions that protect habitats and ecological resources at risk from barrier construction.
The authors highlight that the potential hazards of the proposed wall were first highlighted in 2005 when the U.S Congress passed the Real ID Act. The Real ID Act gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the authority to bypass any laws including the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act that would slow the construction of the border wall.
Man-made structures such as walls destroy the living spaces of animals and plants and can also cause the soil surrounding to become infertile for long periods which disrupts ecosystems. Walls prevent animals from finding food, water, mates and disrupt annual and seasonal migration patterns. Construction can also erode soil and disrupt natural water flows.
“Any substantial construction ordinarily forces populations to extinction directly by outright destruction of their habitat or by reducing population size or restricting access to critical areas required seasonally. Every time you see a strip mall, airport or housing development being constructed, you can be sure biodiversity is suffering. Many hundreds of miles of border wall and the accompanying construction and maintenance infrastructure would be a crime against biodiversity,” study author Paul Ehrlich said to the Stanford Report.
The paper proposed a multitude of solutions including designing barriers for maximum wildlife permeability and restoring wildlife habitats that have been damaged by barrier construction. The paper also recommended the DHS be required to identify habitats and animals at risk from barrier construction.
During recent years, many Americans and people from the Western World at large have proposed that their countries build border walls amidst growing concerns over the problems which arise in countries as a result of higher rates of immigration.
Ehrlich and Dirzo’s paper adds a new tangent to the border wall debate as it adds to the conversation how barriers can affect animals and the environment as well as humans.
“Aside from effects on water flows and other natural services, the wall could rob us of iconic creatures such as the endangered Peninsular Bighorn sheep and the Sonoran pronghorn antelope,” Ehrlich warned. “There’s also an economic loss to consider—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching contributed nearly $26 billion to border state economies in 2011.”