How Coronavirus is affecting our wildlife

Date: June 2020

How Coronavirus is affecting our wildlife

As you are aware, coronavirus has had a substantial impact on almost everything we do in our daily lives, but how has it impacted our environment?

Our habitats

Essex is home to an abundance of natural habitats such as saltmarshes, wetlands, mudflats and ancient woodlands, all of which house key species that are important for conservation. Essex County Council are responsible for the protection of these habitats by upholding legislations and meeting targets set out by the government. However, it is Essex Wildlife Trust that deals with the majority of the hands-on environmental management work.

Temporarily furloughed

Essex Wildlife Trust has temporarily furloughed 60% of their staff until further notice, meaning a significant reduction in the speed at which their projects can be completed. Although, in their latest coronavirus announcement, nothing has been said on how the volunteering opportunities have been affected. One can only assume, rather optimistically, that people are still allowed to volunteer their time to help. A lot of conservation organisations, such as the Essex Wildlife Trust, organise events in-order to establish a relationship between the public and nature. None of these events are able to take place during this pandemic and therefore you can argue that the divide between the public and nature has only increased. To further support this claim, since March 17th the Trust has closed all of their Nature Discovery Centres, playgrounds and car parks along with five of their nature reserves.

Not all hope is lost!

However, there are still plenty of ways in which the environment has benefited from the pandemic. One of which is the reduction of vehicle usage. This causes an increase in invertebrate populations that use roadside verges as a habitat. This also allows populations of species that often go unnoticed such as lichen, who provide us with oxygen, to increase because they are hypersensitive to CO2 levels. Another way the environment has benefited is through us. Being isolated at home has led to more people paying attention to their gardens. This better-quality habitat from garden to garden causes the formation of wildlife corridors. Species use these corridors to travel amongst the urban world. This increases gene flow between populations, reducing the risk of inbreeding.

We can all do our bit to help aid wildlife during this time, for more information visit the Essex Wildlife Trust website:

www.essexwt.org.uk

Alex Rowe local resident,

studying Ecology in Bristol.

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