The National Forest Management Act (NFMA) contains some of the most powerful mandates to preserve biodiversity on our public lands. NFMA requires the Forest Service to maintain all plant and animal species found on forests and grasslands as viable components in their ecosystems. On January 26, the federal government finalized a new set of regulations that revise how NFMA is implemented. In April 2011, SCB scientists reviewed the proposed changes and suggested improvements. In an article covering the revisions, the Washington Post quoted Society for Conservation Biology policy director John Fitzgerald that the rule continued to have “several weaknesses” include the fact that it would “assume and not require the responsible official to show that the plan includes all practicable steps to conserve the full biological diversity” within a given forest.” Read more…
Bialowieza Forest is the last lowland primeval forest within the European Union. It is a unique biodiversity hotspot and a fascinating source of scientific knowledge. It represents a much needed ecological blue-print for the restoration of forests in Europe. In 2003, SCB’s European Section delivered a resolution concerning the preservation of the Bialowieza Forest to the Polish Minister of the Environment. In 2010, the Polish Minister of the Environment imposed a restriction on logging in Bialowieza Forest that limited timber extraction to an amount sufficient to support local needs as well as sustainable in safeguarding both the ecological and cultural uniqueness of this Polish, European and World Heritage Site. SCB-Europe recently sent a letter to the new Minister of the Environment, Marcin Korolec, encouraging the government to retain this limit and to avoid logging of the remaining old-growth.
SCB-Europe also recently joined with other SCB sections in issuing a declaration on sustainable forest management to mark the 2011 International Year Of Forests.
Non-native insects and pathogens are seriously harming natural and human-managed forests. Invasive pests and forest diseases, in concert with other anthropogenic disturbances such as land clearing and changes in fire regimes, are dramatically altering the composition and structure of many forests in North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Australia, China, Africa and elsewhere. Further, they inflict high costs on society, including: the costs of prevention, control and eradication of the harmful organisms; costs of removing diseased trees; direct market losses (e.g., timber and nursery industries); and loss of nonmarket benefits, including wildlife habitat for vast numbers of species, carbon sequestration to mitigate global warming, and recreational and aesthetic benefits for humans. In connection with the recognition of 2011 as the ‘International Year of the Forest’, SCB recently released a report on ‘Recommendations for Protecting Forests From Introduced Forest Pests and Plant Pathogens’ (available here).
This detailed report builds on SCB’s earlier declaration in support of the International Year of the Forest.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed removing gray wolves in Wyoming from the list of threatened species and returning them to state management. The state of Wyoming has proposed a management plan that divides the state into three zones: 1) a Wolf Trophy Game Management Area (WTGMA) where wolf hunting is seasonally permitted, 2) the remainder of the state where a designation of the species as a ‘predator’ allows year-round unrestricted hunting and other forms of lethal control, and 3) seasonal expansion of the WTGMA by 80 km southward for 4.5 months during peak wolf dispersal season. While in some respects the Wyoming wolf population is healthy and may merit delisting, SCB-North America Section is concerned that a problematic precedent for connectivity is being proposed in this management plan. The plan envisions that artificial translocation (e.g., movement of wolves in trucks) is adequate for recovery in place of allowing natural dispersal between wolf populations.