Government Pushes Forward With Land Conservation Strategy For Wildlife
March 27, 2013

Government Pushes Forward With Land Conservation Strategy For Wildlife

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

With no conclusion to the raging climate change debate in sight, the Obama Administration, in conjunction with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), has decided to forge ahead with a new land conservation strategy designed to adjust for a much warmer future.

The strategy, which will be executed in concert with state and tribal authorities, aims to protect wildlife as their historical habitats are being altered by the forces of climate change.

In an FWS web video, officials framed the strategy in terms of the benefits that wildlife and natural ecosystems convey to society. According to the video, hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related activities generate $122 billion each year and the American seafood industry comprises 1 million jobs.

“The health and vitality of our nation´s natural resources are important components of our overall social and economic welfare,” said Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in a press statement. “As resource trustees, we have an obligation to understand, consider and minimize all the potential impacts, including those from climate change.”

“This new strategy will help us meet those challenges and empower current and future generations to be better stewards of our priceless resources and cherished landscapes amidst a rapidly changing world,” he added.

“The Strategy is a comprehensive, multi-partner response that takes a 21st-century approach developed by the American public for sustaining fish, wildlife, and plant resources and the services they provide — now and into the future,” said David J. Hayes, the Deputy Secretary of the Interior.

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants (NFWP) Climate Adaptation Strategy does not identify individual species to target. Instead, the plan focuses on bureaucratic and habitat-based measure, such as a connected system of reserves or “corridors” that allow wildlife to move about unrestricted, and informing the public about the importance of land conservation.

The plan does identify increased greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels as a major culprit in driving climate change. However, it does not name specific or mandatory steps to reduce emissions.

The federal government has already been actively pursuing many of the measures loosely outlined in the plan. For example, the US government currently pays ranchers and farmers in the Great Plains to remove land from production for wildlife conservation purposes, effectively protecting the land of the threatened lesser prairie chicken.

According to reports, the new plan has yet to illicit a backlash so far from state officials and many states are actively embracing the announcement.

"State fish and wildlife agencies serve as stewards of the nation's natural resources and we welcome the release of the Strategy to assist us collectively in our efforts to conserve our fish and wildlife and the habitats on which they depend," said Patricia Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

"The real value of this strategy is that is makes a broad array of recommendations that agencies and our conservation partners can support as our capacity allows, and enables us to understand how each of us can contribute to progress on helping our natural resources adapt to a changing climate," she added.