“If it was safe enough to grow a forest, I think the powers that be would rather build a high rise .”
I should perhaps amend that to say, “here in California…”
Our legislature recently paved the way for big developers to put high density developments on pretty much any buildable site. This was a solution to the homeless problem here (wink, wink).
I have two opposing examples on how golf courses affect wildlife, specifically rattlesnakes in the Crotalus genus in the United States.
Arizona: Obviously, Arizona is mostly very dry. There is a wildlife biologist at the University of Arizona (Dr. Matt Goode) who has been tracking rattlesnakes and other reptiles near Tucson for many years. The project is continued by his students. It centers around herp surveys, primarily lizards and snakes, specifically around golf courses. Here, because the golf courses are green year-round, there is a greater abundance of these desert herp species. They can find food more easily on golf courses since rodents flock there too. Rattlesnakes that include a golf course in their home range are larger than those in more “natural” areas. It’s not like humans are feeding them–they’re eating a natural diet, just at a higher rate.
Georgia: This example comes from a talk this year at the Venomous Herpetology Symposium. I personally know the head biologist for Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia. The entire island is “protected” (e.g., there are homes and a community on the island, but all land is protected, permits must be acquired for any new construction, and construction workers must take caution for wildlife, no exceptions). They have been radiotracking eastern diamondback rattlesnakes on the island for over ten years. One of the important takeaways from this most recent talk was about the divide between the “northern” and “southern” populations of EDBs. These populations are physically and genetically separated by the main roads as well as the golf courses. The biologist is considering ways to connect the two populations to prevent a collapse. The rattlesnakes here do not cross into lawns or the golf courses at all–these are massive impediments to their movement. Managers for the island are considering restoring the golf courses to natural, native habitat in order to help connect these separated populations.
I would do away with golf courses, but there are interesting studies out there showing their value to wildlife (if wildlife is left alone).