Conservation Groups Applaud Sen. Merkley for Resolution Calling for a National Biodiversity Strategy

Salamander in Tualatin River by Charlie Sandbo

WASHINGTON, D.C.— As the United States faces escalating impacts from the joint biodiversity and climate crises, leading conservation groups including Defenders of Wildlife, the Endangered Species Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Oregon Wild, Sierra Club, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund today applauded Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for introducing a resolution in the Senate calling on the Biden administration to establish a National Biodiversity Strategy and make actions to address the biodiversity crisis a national priority. 

A National Biodiversity Strategy would establish a whole-of-government approach to address the extinction crisis, and its leading drivers, by requiring a more effective and coordinated use of existing laws, policies, and programs to protect biodiversity and reverse its decline. It would help protect, retain and restore highly intact ecosystems, promote environmental justice and provide a blueprint for local, state, tribal, federal efforts to tackle the biodiversity crisis while also complementing the Biden administration’s other habitat loss and climate change initiatives.  

The U.S. currently lacks a comprehensive and coordinated approach to combating the five main drivers of the biodiversity crisis: habitat loss, over-exploitation, climate change, pollution and invasive species. Worldwide, 194 countries have created versions of a national biodiversity strategy. With burgeoning threats in some of our most intact and biodiverse landscapes, the urgency for action is paramount. 

“Right now is a pivotal moment to double down on our commitment to preserving our nation’s natural heritage and ensure that future generations aren’t left grasslands without grouse, forests without owls and ponds and streams devoid of life,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “We deeply appreciate Senator Merkley’s dedication to addressing the escalating biodiversity crisis and creating a better world for people and wildlife. Inaction in the face of extinction is not an option.” 

“Thank you, Senator Merkley, for your leadership in championing a National Biodiversity Strategy. This is a pivotal time for wildlife. In North America, we have lost nearly 70% of our mammals since 1970, and scientists estimate that one in four animals are threatened with extinction. It is critical that we have a comprehensive plan to effectively confront the biodiversity crisis and safeguard the wildlife we love for future generations,” said Susan Holmes, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. 

“Biodiversity loss is inextricably linked to the other great crises threatening our planet: climate change and zoonotic pandemics,” said John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Conserving 30% of nature by 2030 is essential to safeguarding our planet’s life support systems now and into the future, and in the U.S. a whole-of-government approach is critical if we are to succeed. We are grateful to Senator Merkley for introducing this resolution to urge the Biden Administration to establish a national biodiversity strategy because life on earth depends on a vibrant, healthy, and biodiverse planet.”

“According to WWF’s 2022 Living Planet Report, we are seeing an alarming loss of biodiversity, with wildlife populations declining on average by 69 percent globally since 1970. The U.S. must play a leadership role in tackling this crisis, both globally and domestically, including by conserving and restoring iconic species such as the American bison, black-footed ferret, and blue whale. Establishing a National Biodiversity Strategy would elevate needed action by directing federal agencies to pursue bold measures that protect nature and align the U.S. with efforts as part of the Global Biodiversity Framework to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. It is urgent to act now, and WWF welcomes Sen. Merkley’s resolution calling for a U.S. National Biodiversity Strategy, complementing companion efforts in the House of Representatives.” – Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of Wildlife Conservation for World Wildlife Fund.

“Humanity must tackle the biodiversity and climate crises together if we want to effectively address either,” said Andrew Wetzler, senior vice president for nature at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Senator Merkley’s resolution helps bridge this gap in the U.S. approach as a National Biodiversity Strategy will defend nature and the benefits it provides, including climate mitigation, for future generations.”

“Though the Endangered Species Act has an impressive 50-year history of keeping native plants and animals from vanishing from our landscapes, we urgently need more tools that prevent species from needing the Act in the first place, “ said Danielle Moser, Wildlife Program Manager for Oregon Wild. “Senator Jeff Merkley’s introduction of the National Biodiversity Strategy resolution is a crucial step toward addressing the dire threats facing our wildlife and ecosystems, including here in Oregon.”

“When it comes to stopping the biodiversity crisis, the United States must be an international leader,” said Bradley Williams, Associate Director of Legislative and Administrative Advocacy at the Sierra Club. “We must lead by example by developing our own national biodiversity strategy while funding global efforts to support the biodiversity goals of developing countries. Senator Merkley’s resolution sends a strong signal that now is the time to join global efforts to protect biodiversity.”

The campaign for a National Biodiversity Strategy is supported by more than 120 organizations, leading scientists and 365 state legislators from across the country. A companion resolution introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep.  Joe Neguse (D-CO) has garnered the support of 55 representatives including Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). 

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