HOME

NEWS

CHARITIES

VOLUNTEER

ACTION CENTER

ADD CHARITY

CONTACT

SUPPORT

World Environment Community Health Animals Celebrity Submit A Site Find A Charity
Noise pollution is drowning out nature even in protected areas – study

By Damian Carrington, theguardian.com

223 days ago   Article ID# 4151533
Original URL

 

LONDON, U K (theguardian.com) - The sounds of the natural world are being overwhelmed by the blare of human activity, even in protected wildlife areas, new research has revealed.

The racket is not only harming people’s enjoyment of natural havens, which are known to have significant benefits for both physical and mental health, but it is also affecting wildlife, with animals less able to escape predators and birds less able to find mates.

Scientists used over one million hours of sound recordings from 492 locations in protected areas in the US to calculate that in about two-thirds of places, the noise pollution from human activities was double the background sound levels. A fifth of the protected areas suffered human noise levels that were 10 times background levels, the researchers found.

“Next time you go for a walk in the woods, pay attention to the sounds you hear – the flow of a river, wind through the trees, singing birds, bugling elk. These acoustic resources are just as magnificent as visual ones, and deserve our protection,” said Rachel Buxton, at Colorado State University and who led the study published in the journal Science on Thursday.

“They make us feel good and are important for our physical and emotional wellbeing,” she said. “We actually have research that shows that natural sounds improve our mood, increase our memory retention and restore our senses.”

Animals use noise for many essential functions, such as dodging predators, finding food and mates and maintaining relationships in social groups, Buxton said: “So not being able to hear these sounds has serious consequences.”

The impact of noise can cascade across entire ecosystems, she said, even leading to effects on plants as the wildlife that interact with them changes. “Although plants can’t hear, many animals that disperse seeds or pollinate flowers can hear, and are known to be affected by noise,” said Buxton, adding that plant grazers could also become more abundant if noise drives their predators away.

The researchers identified the key causes of noise pollution as roads and air traffic, settlements and the extractive industries, such as forestry, fracking and mining. With a tenfold increase in background noise, as found in a fifth of the protected areas, natural sounds that would have been detectable 100m away can only be heard when 10m away.

In the areas defined as wilderness, which is meant to entirely to be “untrammeled by man”, according to US law, 12% still experienced a doubling of background noise due to human activities. The problem of noise also seriously affected the habitat of endangered species, such as the San Marcos salamander and San Bernardino kangaroo rat.

The researchers note that protected area laws in the US do not include measures to monitor or manage noise pollution from human activities: “This is a conspicuously missed opportunity, as techniques to manage noise pollution are readily available.”

Such techniques, already in place in some protected areas, include providing shuttle services to cut back on visitor traffic and confining noise into specific corridors by aligning flight patterns over roads. There have also been moves to cut the noise from motorboats and snowmobiles in Yellowstone national park and to reduce aircraft flyovers over the Grand Canyon.

The new research on noise pollution in natural areas is much needed, said Noelle Kumpel, policy programme manager at the Zoological Society of London: “It is a hidden impact that we don’t really think about. We, as humans, value and appreciate peace and quiet and wildlife reacts in the same way. Noise levels are important to that level of enjoyment and what we humans and animals get from nature.”

Kumpel said there was evidence of human-related noise harming wildlife around the world, from oil drilling driving elephants away in Uganda to underwater noise causing mass strandings of whales in the Canary Islands. She said a balance needs to be found between ensuring human impacts are limited in the wildest areas and allowing people to experience the joys of nature.

Copyright 2017 theguardian.com   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 223 days ago   Article ID# 4151533

   

View All Actions >>

Climate
Oceans
Deforestation
Pollution
Wildlife
<< Return To Environment News

Action Center

Climate change will bring more and more heat waves

Action: Climate Change

The heat in Malaysia often feels next to unbearable. For days on end, the sun is scorching and the heat is sweltering. That, ...

End Phosphate Mining in Manatee County

Action: Wildlife Conservation

The expansion of phosphate mining in Manatee County would threaten freshwater resources in the Myakka and Peace River watersh ...

Amazon basin deforestation could disrupt distant rainforest by remote climate connection

Action: Stop Deforestation

The ongoing deforestation around the fringes of the Amazon may have serious consequences for the untouched deeper parts of th ...

Stop coal mining assault on this roadless forest

Action: Stop Pollution

President Trump has been clear since day one that he’s turning over the nation’s public lands and environment to King Coa ...

Defend our wildlife from the search for Atlantic oil

Action: Save Our Oceans

From Maine to Florida, people along the East Coast strongly oppose offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean -- yet ...

View All Actions >>

 

 

Charities

News

Follow Us

Support

Find A Charity

Action Center

World

Community

Facebook

Twitter Support

Contact

Volunteer

Add A Site

Environment

Animals

Google+

Privacy Policy

Copyright

 

 

Health

Celebrity

Terms of Service

Copyright The Charity Vault All rights reserved.