Taken alone, the construction of another suburb, the spraying
of a farmland for insect pests or the catching of an additional
net full of fish may have little impact on total species populations.
But the accumulated effect of habitat loss, pollution and
other small, daily tinkerings with the natural environment
is the slow and steady dwindling of even common species. As
a result, the planet is losing species faster than at any
other time in all of human history.
Each state is unique, from land ownership patterns to land
use. In the East, the land is largely privately owned, while
in the West federal and state governments own the bulk of
the land. Agriculture predominates in the Midwest, logging
has been a major use in the Pacific Northwest and chip mills
abound in the Southeast. Numerous other differences among
the geography, population density and political climate also
provide important distinctions among states.
What doesn't change is each state's dependence on our natural
world. Intact ecosystems are essential for supporting the
human population, from both an ecological and economic standpoint.
So it is in each state's interest to protect the species within
its borders and cooperate with neighboring states.
It is also in each state's interest to ensure that efforts
to protect species are strong and consistent throughout the
country. While nationwide efforts generally are the role of
the federal government, other levels of government can provide
enormous assistance in the effort. Coordination of this effort
among states would be made easier if legal protections for
a species were similar and coordinated throughout species'
ranges. This means that we should strive for consistent, though
not necessarily identical, endangered species acts for each
of the 50 states.
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity includes the whole variety of life on Earth,
from coral reefs to the arctic.
The living world is made up of many thousands of different
animals and plants. Biodiversity is represented by all the
plant and animal species that we see but it also includes
the genetic variation and the complex ecosystems of which
they are part.
Every living creature has its own genetic 'fingerprint'.
The greater the variety of plants and animals, the greater
the genetic diversity. Even tiny or insignificant plants may
have a vital place in a food chain and the whole network of
Everything is precious, if you destroy one small part, you
may lose much more. Biodiversity is not restricted to rare
or threatened species like the wood bitter-vetch, but also
to more common species like the Stoat.
Biodiversity includes the whole of the natural world from
the plants and animals familiar to all of us in the places
where we live or work, for example the gardens of Your city,
to the exotic and endangered habitats, for example, rainforests.
State Parks and Natural Areas
Many of most scenic and ecologically significant areas are
protected through our state parks system. There are 50 actively
managed state parks and 33 satellite areas under the protection
of nearby state parks. These parks serve to preserve and protect
unique examples of natural, cultural and scenic areas and to
provide quality outdoor experiences for our citizens. In addition
to the natural resource parks, some parks are of great archaeological
and historical significance to the state. More than 28 million
visitors each year enjoy the experiences offered by these parks.
Almost 68,000 acres of land are protected in the state's
38 State Natural Areas. Efforts are now under way to add several
new natural areas to the system. Natural areas protect populations
of rare plant or animal species
as well as their habitats. There are also 46 registered State
Natural Areas, which are nonbinding cooperative management
agreements, mostly with private landowners, that protect ecologically