While a native ecosystem can be thought of as a relatively large area where multiple species and environmental processes interact, habitat is the place where a specific organism is found.
Robert E. Ricklefs, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, defines the word habitat in his book Ecology as:
Place where an animal or plant normally lives, often characterized by a dominant plant form or physical characteristic (that is, the stream habitat, the forest habitat).
If the wilderness (native ecosystem) is protected from the harm of pollution, development, fragmentation etc., the habitat will also be protected. However, in many areas the wilderness is only a fraction of its original size and whole portions of it might have been converted to urban or agricultural uses and occupation. Even within protected wilderness area there are often threats from nearby urban or agricultural sources. The quality of wilderness is often most compromised near its boundaries with the human-dominated world. It is in these transitional zones that habitat protection is needed the most. Humans are the sources of many of the problems that threaten the integrity of wilderness (for example, pollution, litter, nonnative species introductions, roads and vehicles, noise, water depletion etc.). As we encroach closer and closer to wilderness, the need to be better stewards of the wild lands and waters should also increase. Habitat protection involves taking precautions to ensure that the places where wildlife live are sheltered from the detrimental effects of humans.
So what can you do?
Learn about how you can become an Apprentice Ecologist and start your own environmental stewardship project today!!!
Some other simple ways to restore and protect habitat locally:
Audubon at Home: Think Locally
National Wildlife Federation: Backyard Wildlife Habitat