Welcome to The Conservation Report, March 2020
Dear TiME supporters,

We hope that you are staying healthy during this most uncertain time.
Take a look at TiME’s website to choose which threatened habitat you want to save this year. Each member, regardless of the size of their donation, helps decide which plot of land TiME will protect next. And 100 percent of the funds you donate online will be directed towards purchasing critical habitats in biodiversity hotspots.
"Our health relies entirely on the vitality of our fellow species on Earth." Harrison Ford
Image by Vektor Kunst iXimus from Pixabay 
Coronaviruses, discovered in the late 1960s, are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. They are one of the viruses responsible for the common cold in humans, but they can also cause more severe respiratory illnesses, as we are now witnessing. 

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is genetically similar to bat coronaviruses, leading scientists to speculate that SARS-CoV-2 jumped from bats to humans in a mechanism known as zoonotic transmission.

Nevertheless, bats are not to blame for this pandemic — the only species responsible are humans, who have destroyed and continue to destroy huge swathes of wildlife habitat.
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Image by paislie from Pixabay 
Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats facing plants and animal species throughout the world. According to the World Wildlife Fund, habitat destruction is identified as a main threat to 85 percent of all species described in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Habitat destruction not only impacts individual species but also the health of the global ecosystem. Human encroachment on the habitats of wild species have created countless ripple effects, including the increase of microbial spread from animals to humans.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 
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Human-led habitat destruction, fragmentation or degradation has created the opportunity for microbes living in other species to be exposed and adapt to the human body. Affected wildlife species are forced to live in smaller and smaller fragments of their remaining habitat, allowing for repeated exposure to humans.

When the microbes that have evolved to live in a particular species repeatedly engage with our species, their ability to crossover (transmit between species) is heightened and deadly human pathogens that our immune systems have not yet encountered are created. 
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 
Zoonosis: an infectious disease that can be transmitted from animal to human
In addition to habitat destruction, the wildlife trade and factory farming are other ways humans facilitate the transfer of microbes that could potentially endanger humans.

Our mass-production approach to animal husbandry means that we pack huge numbers of animals into cages and boxes. The stress of the experience increases the shedding of viruses and other microbes, and the close contact to other animals and humans increases the likelihood of crossover.

The wildlife trade also brings together species that would never otherwise have come into contact in their natural habitats, thus offering another opportunity for the potential evolution and crossover of microbes.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Only two conservation tactics can guarantee success: land purchase and formal governmental/legal protection.

Please donate and vote for your preferred project this year to help us to continue to protect precious biodiversity!

With our ever-growing population and the advent of globalization, these diseases are able to spread faster than ever before. Whereas previously, an Ebola outbreak was confined to, say, a rural village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, today, an infected person can catch a flight to a concentrated city center and allow the spread to continue. 
We humans need to rethink our complete disregard of other species and their natural habitats and how we treat our planet. Habitat destruction not only leads to the loss of immeasurable important species but, as is now all too evident, can also affect us in our own communities with the spread of new pathogens. 

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay 
The COVID-19 pandemic is yet another wake-up call to protect our biodiversity and prevent wildlife habitats from being further destroyed. The transfer of pathogens from species to species is not a new thing and will continue to occur.

But, by continuing to destroy the habitats of wild species, humans are increasing the zoonotic spread of potentially fatal pathogens and are contributing to the possibility of more dangerous pandemics in the future.
With your help, TiME is purchasing and protecting land in biologically diverse areas around the world that are being threatened by human activity and habitat loss. 

Each member, regardless of the size of their donation, helps decide which plot of land TiME will protect next.

100 percent of the funds you donate online will be directed towards purchasing critical habitats in biodiversity hotspots — we do not take any money for administrative expenses. 

Read more about the different conservation projects currently open for voting, donate and vote!

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Follow us on social media and get even more from TiME. We’re always open to suggestions, so if you come across conservation news you think we should add next month, please share it via our websiteTwitter, Instagram or Facebook. See you there!
Newsletter Contributor: Gemma Koor
TiME Editor: Liat Radcliffe Ross
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