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Over the years, the nature and structure of our forests have changed dramatically. Large forest tracts are becoming fragmented, resulting in the loss of deep woods habitat, which is critical for some wildlife!!!

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 living things.

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 significant lands.

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