White Paper

Wildlife Conservation Organization

November 26, 2020

Wildlife Conservation

The Issue

Wildlife Conservation is an area of environmental policy which needs more attention. Nearly one million wildlife species are at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and other threats. Wildlife populations have decreased drastically over the years resulting in the extinction of several species of flora and fauna. There are several causes for the endangerment and threat to wildlife species. One major cause is human population growth. As populations increase the need for resources increases. As communities grown and develop, they impede on the habitats of wildlife flora and fauna. One third of all wildlife are undergoing devastating population losses. Habitat loss and fragmentation reduce habitat area size, quality, and breeding grounds. Isolation created by fragmentation prevent wildlife from moving causing inbreeding and depletion of resources; This increases mortality rates. Many of these are crucial to human food sustainability. The effects of this loss have a great impact on our communities and ecosystems. Wildlife conservation programs need to be improved and supported to protect not only animal species in danger, but our own lives. There are policies and implementations which can help decrease negative effects on wildlife populations as well as grow and protect these populations to combat this global issue.

The Dispute

Today there is significant dispute over wildlife conservation. Much of this stems from concern over property and rights. As governments expand their reach on a national and international level, they face conflicting claims regarding property. A close look at determination of property rules must be taken to continue to protect wildlife, both animals and habitats. There is great concern that established property forms do not adequately encompass wildlife. The UN designed the Biodiversity Convention to protect all the key elements of biological diversity. Although this highlighted conservation as a global issue, it left states rights to dictate their own biological resources. Currently, wildlife is managed within three types of property: state, private and communal. In response to states not significantly protecting wildlife, conservationists propose private ownership as an alternative approach to effective biodiversity conservation. Private lands however are less reliable as they are limited in capacity, size, and open to reallocation/ownership. With conservation increasingly driven by politics and economics, our property rights do not effectively establish foundation for conservation policies going forward

Challenge

Conservationists face a slew of challenges. Wildlife trafficking has escalated to an international crisis. This has a significant effect on the national interests of the United States and other nations. Governments have permitted mining or drilling of natural resources to damage the ecosystem. This has had a devastating impact on habits and habitants. Many conservation issues are interlinked. Human population growth for example has led to changes in once-open areas for agriculture settlements and infrastructure development. The United States Endangered Species Act may be under attack as policy changes are proposed. Defenders of Wildlife suggest that the presidential administrations plan would further imperil endangered species by “blinding federal agencies to the broad consequences of their actions” (Endangered). It is the purpose of National and international organizations to support conservation efforts and work with governments to establish and protect habitats.

Wildlife conservation programs need to be improved and supported to protect not only animal species in danger, but our own lives. There are policies and implementations which can help decrease negative effects on wildlife populations as well as grow and protect these populations to combat this global issue. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide funding to states, territories and tribes within the United States to restore and maintain habitats by implementing conservation strategies. The act would enhance the nations conservation efforts ensuring long-term heal for wildlife generations across the country. This act allows for the protection of wildlife while continuing to forge the path for community infrastructure and growing human needs. Currently wildlife agencies pull funding from the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program which is vulnerable to congressional appropriations yearly. Its limited funding of only $60 million does not provide agencies with sufficient resources to make and implement long-term conservation plans. The bill does lack safeguards to ensure new federal funding can be provided yearly to meet its goals and objectives. Without the financial backing to properly support long-term wildlife conservation endangered species are expected to grow by the thousands.

Action

We urge the administration to take the following mitigation action:

  1. Protect existing natural land spaces.
  2. Wildlife corridors
  3. Land acquisition
  4. Restoration
  5. Zoning
  6. Buffer Zones: areas created to reduce the impact of localities on wildlife habitats.
  1. Protect existing natural land spaces.

Our public and private lands are valuable natural assets. Protected lands cover almost one third of our country. They provide some of the last remaining habitat areas for various species of fauna and flora. National forests and grasslands comprise 193 million acres of the National Forest System, including ore than 470 federally protected plants and animals. The National Park System supports about 5,400 species.

  1. Wildlife Corridors

Routes, connecting habitats, which wildlife need to move in order to complete their life cycles. National wildlife refuges are vital to collecting and maintaining these wildlife corridors. As human populations increase, and our developments and infrastructures protrude further into wildlife habitats these pathways become more critical. Our teams collect data from wildlife at these refuges to determine desired population levels needed for species and ecosystems to survive and thrive.

  1. Land Acquisition

Government and privately protected lands for habitat conservation. Protected lands are vitally important to wildlife conservation. They harbor important populations of threatened and endangered species. Currently, resource extraction, development, and politics take precedence over the publics interest- conservation.

Limited resources of space should not stop private landowners from instituting practices which would provide or support wildlife protective measures and conservation. Small actions could develop into larger conservation efforts across large vases of land. Small scale and large scale efforts could have a big impact on nature, the survival and success of wildlife flora and fauna. It is imperative to keep in mind that large is not a prerequisite to meaningful action.

  1. Restoration

Restoration of degraded wildlife habitats. It is imperative to convert previously developed land back to its natural state. This can add to existing habitats making them larger and or able to support and protect species against population threats. Restored lands can expand upon preexisting habitats or create areas for newly protected lands.

  • Zoning

Zoning to promote responsible development while ensuring that development has minimal adverse effects on wildlife populations. The addition of wildlife conservation into local development plans The methods used to regulate development through zoning ordinances are well suited for implementing conservationist principles.

  • Buffer Zones

Buffer Zones created to reduce the impact of localities on wildlife habitats. Buffer ones are designated areas used to protect sensitive areas of land such as wildlife reserves from adverse effects.

The Wildlife Conservation Organization proposes the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Introduced by Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska)  in July of 2019, The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide funding to states, territories and tribes within the United States to restore and maintain habitats by implementing conservation strategies. Recommended by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Blue Ribbon Panel the bill identifies funding and plans. This would be an amendment to the Moving Forward Act which authorizes funds for federal highways, highway safety programs, transit programs and other purposes. The act would enhance the nations conservation efforts ensuring long-term heal for wildlife generations across the country. This act allows for the protection of wildlife while continuing to forge the path for community infrastructure and growing human needs. The act would provide $1.4 billion dollars annual to support wildlife recovery, focusing on over 12,000 species. It would also create education and recreation projects to BLANK protection efforts. The act would provide regulation by preventing species from reaching populations which would qualify them to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. 10% of annual funds would go toward grant programs aimed at developing cooperation across states and territories. Another $97.5 million of funding would be dedicated to tribes to utilize on species recovery.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3742

https://www.nwf.org/Our-Work/Wildlife-Conservation/Policy/Recovering-Americas-Wildlife-Act

https://debbiedingell.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2550

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/wildlife-conservation/

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/ecosystem/

https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/urban-regeneration-and-greenspace-partnership/greenspace-in-practice/practical-considerations-and-challenges-to-greenspace/habitat-fragmentation-practical-considerations/

https://www.fws.gov/refuges/history/chron/chron_1900_fs.html

https://www.fws.gov/refuges/features/wildlife-corridors.html

https://www.nwf.org/-/media/Documents/PDFs/Wildlife-Conservation/NWF-National-Policy-Agenda-2019.ashx

https://aldf.org/article/laws-that-protect-animals/

https://defenders.org/federal-lands-conservation

Brearley, Rhodes. “Wildlife Disease Prevalence in Human-Modified Landscapes.” Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 88.2 (2013): 427–442. Web.

Galvin, Kathleen A. et al. Fragmentation in Semi-Arid and Arid Landscapes Consequences for Human and Natural Systems . Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2008. Web.

Said, Ogutu. “Effects of Extreme Land Fragmentation on Wildlife and Livestock Population Abundance and Distribution.” Journal for nature conservation 34 (2016): 151–164. Web.

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