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Date:         Mon, 29 Jan 2007 12:54:03 -0500
Reply-To:     ELI Wetlands Program <[log in to unmask]>
Sender:       Biological Conservation and GIS <[log in to unmask]>
From:         ELI Wetlands Program <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      Open Space Programs Should Protect Wildlife Through Strategic
              Land Acquisition
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

January 29, 2007 Open Space Programs Should Protect Wildlife Through Strategic Land Acquisition The Environmental Law Institute announces the publication of "The Nature of Open Space Programs: Linking Land Protection and Biodiversity." ELI policy analyst Roxanne Thomas recommends strategies for open space programs that would increase protection of wildlife and habitat by targeting lands with high biodiversity value for acquisition. The greatest threats to wildlife and biodiversity in the United States are habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. Purchasing land outright or protecting it through the acquisition of a conservation easement ensures the protection of lands important for habitat. Thomas' report stresses that which lands are conserved is also important for combating corrosive effects of habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. Programs must balance the need to acquire as much land as quickly as possible with the need to strategically obtain land valuable for maintaining ecosystems and providing healthy habitat for native species. Setting priorities for acquisition maximizes the conservation benefit of each dollar spent. The report reviews 28 major state open space protection programs. Together, these programs contribute an average of more than $700 million annually in 21 states to land protection for the purpose of biodiversity and wildlife conservation. Thomas examines their legal authority to give priority to acquiring lands with high biodiversity value. The report also proposes strategies to improve the effectiveness of these programs in supporting biodiversity conservation. "States are in a great position to use their open space programs to increase protection of their natural heritage," Thomas states. "Moreover, these recommendations apply not only to state open space programs but to any land conservation program seeking to enhance its efforts to conserve biodiversity and wildlife habitat." Thomas finds that the majority of open space programs have both the authority to prioritize their acquisitions and a variety of tools and opportunities available to help meet conservation goals effectively and efficiently. The report makes the following recommendations: -Open space programs, particularly those that have not previously utilized biological data or inventories, should adopt effective prioritization strategies and draw upon existing data resources in order to identify and prioritize lands of biological significance. In 2005, all 50 states and 6 territories completed wildlife action plans, which contain a tremendous amount of wildlife and habitat information. Open space programs should use the wildlife action plans to identify and prioritize lands of biological significance. -Open space programs should bolster their conservation impact by strengthening their authority to prioritize lands based on biological and wildlife habitat values. Recent increases in the public's focus on wildlife may provide support for acquiring such authority. -Open space programs should leverage conservation dollars by building partnerships with other programs, both those that have similar purposes and those environmental groups, such as watershed councils, that have an ancillary focus on wildlife habitat or biodiversity conservation. States are investing in the conservation of open space to protect wildlife habitat and biodiversity. The report concludes that if they are equipped with sufficient information and resources, they can be well-positioned to make better land protection decisions and to maximize the conservation benefits that result from each dollar spent. Thomas' report is a publication of the Environmental Law Institute and is available for free online at For further information about the report or Ms. Thomas' research, contact her directly at (202)939-3827 or [log in to unmask] Individual summaries of the state programs examined in this study are available on ELI's website at: ### The Environmental Law InstituteR is an independent, non-profit research and educational organization based in Washington, DC. The Institute serves the environmental profession in business, government, the private bar, public interest organizations, academia, and the press. For further information from the Environmental Law Institute, please contact Sarah Bermingham at (202)939-3836 or [log in to unmask] To order publications in hard copy, contact Linda Ellis at (202)939-3246. Environmental Law Institute 2000 L St. NW Suite 620 Washington, DC 20036 ************************ CONSGIS LISTSERV To unsubscribe send to [log in to unmask] this email message SIGNOFF CONSGIS Questions? Contact Pete August, [log in to unmask] *************************


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