“What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.” — Mollie Beattie, former Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (1947-1996)
The federal Endangered Species Act was promulgated in 1973 in response to growing alarm over the impending loss of a number of iconic species including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and gray wolf. The original legislation received an amazing 98 votes in the Senate and was signed into law by Richard Nixon.
Human-caused Acceleration of Biodiversity Loss
Subsequent research by E.O. Wilson and others indicated that not only were we losing these species, but world-wide we were experiencing an accelerated and unprecedented loss of biodiversity. Dr. Wilson eventually came up with the acronym HIPPO to explain the main causes of biodiversity loss in order of importance and impact: habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, population (human overpopulation), and over-harvesting.
The Importance of Biodiversity
“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” — Aldo Leopold
At roughly the same time we recognized that we were losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, we were starting to understand how fundamentally important it is to our own survival to maintain all aspects of the scope and variability of the natural world around us. This thinking was greatly influenced by the thoughts of biodiversity preservation pioneers such as Aldo Leopold and Olaus Murie who changed the way we looked at the natural world and made us understand the need to preserve and restore at all levels from individual species to ecosystem functions such predation, water and fire disturbance regimes, and on landscape scales like wildernesses and marine reserves.
Our Approach to Species Protection and Recovery
In addition to the landscape-level work embodied in our name—Cascadia Wildlands—we also work to protect and restore a number of important species. Here our approach is to find species such as the wolf, marbled murrelet, or Chinook salmon whose restored well-being acts as a surrogate for wildness, mature forests, or clean and functional waterways and oceanic habitats.
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