TWS thanks House subcommittee for discussing biodiversity loss

By Laura Bies

According to the recent report on global biodiversity, almost 33% of reef-forming corals are threatened.
©Jim Maragos/USFWS

The Wildlife Society, alongside the American Fisheries Society and the National Wildlife Federation, sent a letter to the leadership of the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife, thanking them for their efforts to highlight the global loss of biodiversity and the implications for fish and wildlife in the United States, and emphasizing the need for conservation programs.

The letter was in response to a subcommittee hearing held on May 22 entitled “Responding to the Global Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.” The summary of the report, commissioned by the United Nations, stated that approximately 1 million species are now threatened with extinction, more than any other time in human history. According to the summary, the average abundance of native species has decreased by at least 20% in the last century across many ecosystems.

Over the last three years, 145 experts from 50 countries helped develop the report, with another 310 authors contributing. Authors reviewed about 15,000 scientific and government sources, and also drew on indigenous and local knowledge to produce their conclusions.

Witnesses at the hearing included the past chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which developed the report, as well as a report co-chair and a contributing lead author. They provided information about the main findings and content of the report, which has not yet been released in full to the public.

The Wildlife Society’s letter stressed the need for proactive conservation programs to address species extinction concerns highlighted in the report.  Programs in the U.S., like the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, provide state agencies the funding they need to prevent species from becoming threatened or endangered. The letter also referenced last year’s report released by TWS and partners on Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis, which called for transformational change in the way we fund fish and wildlife conservation, and urged the lawmakers to consider this approach as they investigate solutions for the growing fish and wildlife crisis in the U.S.

The same day as the hearing, House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., introduced legislation aimed at preventing extinction. The “Extinction Protection Act of 2019” is made up of four separate sections, each devoted to the conservation of North American butterflies, Pacific island plants, freshwater mussels and southwest desert fish.

That bill would provide $5 million annually for conservation projects involving those species to restore or protect ecosystems, species management plans or the enforcement of conservation laws, among other things. States, territories and tribal will be eligible to apply for the funding.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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