Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 08 Dec 2008 13:00:00 GMT

Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World

Since the biodiversity issue burst on the scene with the 1986 National Forum on Biodiversity, there has been a burgeoning of conservation efforts, organizations, research, education and related activities. Despite many successes, the overall situation is much more precarious today. The driving forces of increased human population, consumption, habitat destruction and degradation, contaminants, and invasive species have been joined by dangerous global climate disruption, globalization, poverty, political instability and other rapid environmental and social changes. Paradoxically, the biodiversity issue has largely fallen off the public agenda, pushed in part by the increased attention to climate change.

There is an urgent need for scientists, conservationists and policymakers to re-examine the biodiversity issue. We must both look retrospectively at a quarter-century of “modern” conservation efforts – what has worked well and what hasn’t, but also prospectively at the greater challenges of the next quarter-century. We need to look broadly at the many scientific discoveries and the many issues involving the use, abuse and conservation of biodiversity including cultivated as well as wild species and ecosystems.

The NCSE conference will bring together some 1000 scientists, conservationists and policymakers to develop a strategy to guide a new US Administration and others working to conserve biodiversity around the world. It will develop an approach for biodiversity management and conservation in a 21st century context, including

  • Strategies for Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainable Utilization
  • Scientific Needs for Understanding Biodiversity Values, Losses and Consequences
  • Expanding Understanding: Information, Education and Communication

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC Metro: Federal Triangle (orange/blue line)

Interior Holding Back Polar Bear Decision; CBD Sues Over Penguins

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 03 Mar 2008 12:47:00 GMT

At last week’s House Appropriations hearing on the FY 2009 Fish and Wildlife Service budget, FWS chief Dale Hall was grilled on the service’s implementation of the Endangered Species Act. The Bush administration has listed dramatically fewer species than previous administrations after dramatically reinterpreting the Act under Secretary Gale Norton’s “New Environmentalism” initiative to limit its protections for critical habitats. Further, Deputy Secretary Julie MacDonald was found to have interfered with a series of listing decisions (such as the prairie dog and sage grouse) until her dismissal in 2006.

Hall stated that he finally submitted his decision on the endangerment of polar bears due to climate change to Dirk Kempthorne, the Secretary of the Interior, saying that he expected a final decision to come in a few weeks. Hall justified the further delay to reporters: “It needs to be reviewed and explained to Interior, it can take a while to understand.”

On February 27, the Center for Biological Diversity announced a lawsuit protesting the FWS’s illegal delay on considering the endangerment of ten species of penguins:
The legal deadline at issue in today’s suit was triggered by a scientific petition the Center filed in November 2006 seeking Endangered Species Act protection for many of the world’s most threatened penguin species, including the emperor penguin in Antarctica. In July 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the first of the three steps in the listing process when it found that 10 penguin species may deserve protection and began status reviews for those species. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s finding for the 10 penguin species triggered the duty to decide by November 29, 2007, whether the penguins qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act, and if so, to propose them for listing. That decision is now more than two months overdue.