Written by Emily Tamkin, CNN
As nature in the US declines, damage to our environment is expected to grow.
Biodiversity losses could damage the economy by up to $1.23 trillion by 2050 and cost US households between $14 and $53 per month in increased energy consumption, according to a 2014 study. On the flip side, genetic diversity could help guard against pathogens, pests and disease.
And so American cities are asking, can we do a better job of protecting our forested treasures?
“I think what Americans don’t realize is we have such a huge population that we’re losing large tracts of forest every day. And that’s not just limited to the most densely populated areas but all of the urban regions in the US,” says Grace Siemens, one of the researchers who conducted the 2014 study.
“And yet the solution for biodiversity is really large — and that’s not just horticulture, although that does play a huge role — but also habitat that’s not natural, planting gardens and plants that are native to the soil and the climate of the area.”
Change is coming
Since the first inhabited settlers invaded the American west in 1606, native forests have been increasingly fragmented by agriculture and forestry. In some areas, forests are expected to disappear by the mid-century.