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The purpose of habitat management is to strike the best combination possible between human habitation and nature. Wildlife conservation operations act to preserve balance by protecting endangered plants and animals from human interference. Conversely, many forest management programs use human intervention as a way to speed growth processes that would take decades or even centuries to occur naturally. Occasionally, it is humanity that is threatened by animal or plant activity, and in those instances, it is wildlife management organizations that restore the balance.
Frequently, habitat management methods are used to protect the territories of endangered species. For example, because of its propensity for wildfire, South Africa's Fynbos shrublands are home to a variety of species that have adapted specifically to these harsh conditions. A number of these species exist nowhere else on earth. To ensure the survival of these plants and animals, great care is being taken to avoid human interaction with this area.
In more directed wildlife preservation initiatives, hands-on human action may be required to save an animal. In these cases, members of the endangered species may be captured and placed in artificial environments for protection and reproduction purposes. The intended outcome of this type of program is usually the reestablishment of viable breeding pools. In many cases, the ultimate goal is reintroduction of a species to its natural habitat.
Habitat management of a large area of tree growth is often called forest management. Although the focal point of this type of conservation is clearly the trees, efforts are regularly broadened to include the plant and animal habitats that these areas provide. In North America, forest management primarily studies hardwood stands, but the principles can be extended to cover rain forests and jungles as well.
The standard ecological goal for forest habitat management is a growth pattern called high forest. All stages of tree growth, from saplings to deadfalls are represented in this ecosystem. In addition, animal and plant life is abundant and varied. If undisturbed, high forest biomes would occur naturally. Through careful forest management practices, like selective timbering, this type of biome can be preserved and enhanced.
In rare instances, the goal of habitat management is to keep animals from endangering human populations and property. In some areas, for example, a combination of uncontrolled breeding, limited hunting, and access to human food sources have led to an overpopulation of whitetail deer. As a result, reports of property damage and injuries due to deer-versus-vehicle accidents have risen dramatically. Incidences of significant crop damage from feeding deer have also increased. Responses from local wildlife management offices include animal relocation programs and longer hunting seasons.