Minnesotans For Sustainability©
Sustainable Society: A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.
The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act:
A Quantitative Analysis*
Martin F. J.
Taylor, Kieran F. Suckling
Endangered Species Act provisions
The study finds that the longer species were listed under the act, the more likely they were to be improving in status and the less likely to be declining, suggesting ESA conservation measures act cumulatively over time. Separately, species for which "critical habitat" had been designated for two or more years appeared more likely to be improving and less likely to be declining than species that did not have critical habitat for at least two years. Likewise, species that had recovery plans for two or more years appeared more likely to be improving and less likely to be declining than others, and species with dedicated recovery plans appeared to fare better than species protected by multi-species recovery plans. Other protections afforded by the ESA, such as protection of individual animals from unregulated "take," also had apparently beneficial effects on species' conservation status. The benefits of ESA protections did not appear to favor animals over plants. Taylor and his coauthors urge that the $153 million estimated cost to complete work on the backlog of ESA listings and critical habitat designations be fully funded, and endorse a recommendation that the recovery program budget be increased by $300 million.
The study is described in detail in the April 2005 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Journalists may obtain copies of the article by contacting Donna Royston, AIBS communications representative.
BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields. The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents 89 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 240,000.
The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis
Martin F. J.
Kieran F. Suckling
 Martin Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org),
executive coordinator of the National Parks Association of Queensland, Australia.
For more information, contact Kieran Suckling <email@example.com>.
Originally published in BioScience
Editorial: A Database for the ESA
J. Michael Scott
and Dale D. Goble
The article is an example of an encouraging trend in discussions of the ESA. Taylor and his colleagues provide an empirical analysis of several key elements of the act, including one of its more controversial provisions, the designation of critical habitat. The ESA defines the term critical habitat as the area where the "physical or biological features…essential to the conservation of the species" are located.
The act does not designate any habitat, leaving that task to the federal wildlife agency. The designation is to be based on the best scientific data available, together with an analysis of the economic impact of the designation. Although individuals on all sides of the issue have been willing to offer up judgments on the value of critical habitat, they have often done so without supporting empirical data. Anecdote, rhetoric, and even logic are poor substitutes for data. Lack of informed discussion neither builds trust nor casts light on the issue at hand.
Taylor and colleagues shed some light; although their study establishes a correlation rather than causation, it does suggest that critical habitat makes a positive difference in the conservation status of at-risk species.
This article also highlights a related concern. Empirical analysis is dependent upon data. Taylor and colleagues were able to address the importance of critical habitat only after amassing a comprehensive database drawn from diverse sources. Other researchers who have sought to evaluate the act’s accomplishments have also faced this challenge. The difficulty is that no single ESA database contains the full record of agency actions regarding listing, reclassification, consultations, and other decisions pursuant to the act. Although the Web sites maintained by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are useful, they could be even more so if they were fully consistent with the record from the Federal Register as well as with one another.
A comprehensive database that contained a complete record of actions under the ESA would promote independent analysis by diverse parties and would improve discourse by complementing rhetoric with facts. The result would be better-informed policymakers, agency personnel, and members of the general public, as well as a more transparent and efficient ESA implementation process.
J. Michael Scott
Dale D. Goble
See original at < http://www.sw-center.org/swcbd/Programs/policy/ch/biosci-editorial.html
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