Hong Kong Customs displays 82.5kg of rhino horns from South Africa and destined for Malaysia. Photo: ISD

World Habitat Day: A Photo Journey with EIA

A collaboration of EIA’s Forests for the World and Wildlife in Crisis teams

Today marks World Habitat Day, an exciting opportunity to marvel and reflect on the rich and diverse habitats that make up our planet. To commemorate this day, EIA is showcasing a photo journal of some of the habitats we work in. So come explore with us: learn something new, share with a friend, and join us in protecting the environment with intelligence.

Boreal Forests

Though some legends claim it is home to yeti, the threats to the Russian Far East (RFE) are anything but mythical. Interestingly, ‘tundra’ means ‘treeless tract’ in Russian, yet the RFE is home to a diverse range of deciduous and coniferous trees that make up the world’s last old-growth temperate forests. However, illegal logging by organized groups in the RFE may cause its original meaning to become a reality. Driven by worldwide demand for valuable hardwood flooring and furniture, up to 80 percent of precious hardwood species are harvested illegally in the RFE, destroying the habitat of emblematic local species like the endangered Siberian tiger. EIA is working to expose the supply chains of the illicit timber trade—as documented in the recent report, Liquidating the Forests—and is promoting the implementation and enforcement of laws like the U.S. Lacey Act and European Union Timber Regulation that prohibit trade in illegally sourced wood and wood products in an effort to protect the habitat of critically endangered wildlife and forest ecosystems.

Amazon Rainforest

Peru is home to the second largest expanse of the Amazon rainforest outside of Brazil, yet illegal loggers are destroying this iconic habitat, jeopardizing the survival of Peru’s forest species and threatening the indigenous peoples dependent on these forests. EIA has denounced a new packet of legislation in Peru that rolls back crucial environmental regulations in order to promote increased foreign investment. This law, known as the paquetazo, is a violation of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement, and calls into question Peruvian President Humala’s dedication to the environment and action on climate change leading up to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties, to be held in Lima this December.

Ocean Life – Polar Regions

Scientists often say we know more about the universe than we do about our own oceans. The world’s oceans are home to some of the most awe-inspiring creatures on the planet, such as the humpback whale seen in this photo. Hunted to near extinction by commercial whalers, humpback and other whales are making a comeback. However, they still face a number of threats, including loss of vital food resources. Humpbacks feed on krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans that form the foundation of the ocean food web. Since 1970, krill populations have fallen by 80 percent in the waters surrounding Antarctica. How? Krill require sea ice to reproduce, and shrinking sea ice due to climate change has made it difficult for krill to breed. This poses a significant risk to humpbacks and many other unique marine animals.

Ocean Life – Tropics

Life in warmer ocean waters is also in jeopardy. In the Gulf of Mexico, for example, the world’s smallest cetacean, the Vaquita porpoise, is also one of the most endangered. Recent estimates indicate that there are only 100 individuals left in the wild. Vaquitas are killed as bycatch, meaning they are caught in the nets of other marine species that are hunted and fished. EIA has worked extensively to protect this creature from extinction, and most recently helped to secure a joint U.S.-Mexico statement on the Vaquita at the International Whaling Commission meeting in September.

African Savanna

The spacious grasslands of the African savanna provide nourishment to over 500 species of animals such as lions, gazelles, zebras, and the world’s largest land mammal, the African elephant. However, climate change is changing this unique habitat. Although naturally arid, the African savanna has been experiencing prolonged droughts as a result of a warming climate, which directly threaten the survival of some of the world’s most recognized and beloved creatures.

Photos are property of EIA
Vaquita and Humpack whale photos are courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration