New Report Outlines Threats to National Parks Wildlife

Date:   December 26, 2002
Contact:   Roger Di Silvestro, NPCA Senior Director, Communications, 202-454-3335

New Report Outlines Threats to National Parks Wildlife

Washington, D.C. - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today released a report that outlines threats to the plants and animals making up the biological diversity of the national parks. The report, "Biodiversity in the National Parks: Looming Threats to America's Most Valued Plants and Animals," also offers recommendations for protecting park biodiversity.
"The wildlife of our national parks is a national treasure, whether it's in the form of grizzly bears or of the algae that live in the hot waters of Yellowstone's geyser basin," says Roger Di Silvestro, an NPCA spokesman. "Wildlife is one of the big attractions that brings people from all over the world to our national parks. The public expects that the parks will protect these creatures, but the truth is that for many wildlife species, the parks are not safe havens."
Habitat preserved within the National Park System offers thousands of species an oasis of survival in a developing world, including almost 400 endangered or threatened species, the report says. But biodiversity is jeopardized even within national parks. Major threats include habitat loss or degradation, invasions of non-native species, pressure to drill for oil and gas or to build along park boundaries, fragmented habitats too small to support a variety of species, and lack of funds for scientific research and resource protection.
In its report, NPCA offers seven broad recommendations for protecting park biodiversity:

  1. Improve and expand National Park Service science and management programs;

  2. Halt and reverse habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation;

  3. Put a higher priority on combating threats from invasive species;

  4. Implement the Endangered Species Act more proactively;

  5. Expand the National Park System, and protect land and water connections critical to wildlife;

  6. Provide the operating funds needed for research, resources management, and protection efforts; and

  7. Inspire support for park biodiversity by educating the public about biodiversity threats.

National parks face a biodiversity crisis that threatens the loss of fundamental, irreplaceable parts of America's national heritage, according to the report. If not remedied, this crisis will bestow on future generations a biologically impoverished National Park System that offers fewer options for providing critical materials and products that could improve human life and health.
"National parks include some of America's wildest lands, increasingly rare places for which we all, as a nation, seek the strongest and best protection," Di Silvestro said. "If we can't save biodiversity in the parks set aside specifically for wildlife protection, then we probably can't save it anywhere. But if we succeed, we'll provide a model for others to follow throughout the world."


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