Protecting Biodiversity and Wildlife Corridors (courtesy image)

In recognition of the planet’s first Half-Earth Day, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) joined Wildlands Network and partners for “Wildlife Corridors and Saving America’s Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson” on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 24, at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.

World-renowned Harvard biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson was joined by several conservation leaders and members of Congress for a solutions-oriented conversation about wildlife corridors and other policies that can protect America’s wild creatures and places for generations to come.

Known as the “Father of Biodiversity”, Wilson recently authored the book Half-Earth – Our Planet’s Fight for Life in which he laid out a vision to save biodiversity. Today, Dr. Wilson stated, “on this auspicious inaugural Half-Earth Day, a key issue addressed is the role of wildlife corridors, which would enlarge the nations protected areas and help achieve the goal of Half-Earth. Corridors would protect large swaths of America’s wildlife and other fauna and flora, especially in this critical time of climate change and shifting locations of the original environments in which a large part of biodiversity has existed.”

Rep. Don Beyer met with Dr. Wilson in 2016, and shortly afterwards introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act, which would establish a National Wildlife Corridors System.

“I introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act in 2016 to help protect the nearly one in five animal and plant species in the U.S. at risk of extinction,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “Much of the danger to our most endangered species comes from habitat loss, and scientists like Dr. E.O. Wilson have told us that connecting habitats to ensure safe travel between them is key to the genetic strength of threatened populations, and to biodiversity as a whole.”

Conversation on Protecting Global Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson (courtesy photo)

Recent studies show we are losing our native species at an alarming rate: currently one in five U.S. species are threatened with extinction. However, strategies – like protecting wildlife corridors – exist to protect our America’s wildlife.

"Our planet's ‎wildlife is facing ever-increasing threats – from climate change to habitat destruction‎ -- and we must take action at every level, from the U.S. Congress to the grass roots," said Sen. Udall. "E.O. Wilson has dedicated his life to understanding the importance of species diversity, and eloquently sharing his studies and enthusiasm with a broad audience. His voice is essential, and I'm honored to join him for this Half-Earth Day conversation to raise awareness about the need to protect habitat and rally Americans to action."‎

From monarchs to mule deer, from Florida panther to pronghorn, wildlife corridors and other policies can safeguard these species from the threats of climate change and habitat loss, increasing wildlife movement between habitat areas by approximately 50 percent compared to areas not connected by corridors.

“To preserve our wild heritage, we need to connect key habitat across the American landscape,” said Greg Costello, Wildlands Network Executive Director. “From the grizzly to the monarch butterfly, wildlife corridors allow us to steward some of our most treasured species. We’re excited to have the opportunity to discuss this critical topic with Dr. E.O. Wilson, Congressman Beyer and Senator Udall who are such great champions of protecting our natural heritage.”

“There is no doubt that protecting wildlife corridors is one of the most important proactive steps that we have to safeguard our country’s wildlife and majestic public lands,” stated Robert Stanton, former Director of the National Park Service and Endangered Species Coalition board member. “We are thrilled to help bring exciting ideas about saving biodiversity to Washington, DC.”

Presentations and discussions will follow Dr. Wilson’s conversation with members of Congress. Presenters included Dr. Bruce Stein of National Wildlife Federation; Dr. Stuart L. Pimm of the Nicholas School at Duke University; Dr. Healy Hamilton of NatureServe; Dr. Jon Beckmann of Wildlife Conservation Society; Dr. Gary Tabor of Center for Large Landscape Conservation; and Dr. Ron Sutherland of Wildlands Network.

See more at A Conversation on Protecting Global Biodiversity with E.O. Wilson.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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