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Dispatches from the edge of doom
Date:5/9/2011

ively manage them." But in so doing, he says, "we also can turn around populations that appear to be extinct."

Yet many other animals and plants, like the Indiana bat found in Vermont, face demise from disease and habitat loss with or without ESA protections, highlighting the law's limits in the emerging age of mass extinction.

Despite its successes, the number of species on the ESA list has "grown by almost an order of magnitude," Roman says. And the number of species projected to go extinct globally in the next century may reach fifty percent.

"There are steps that can be taken to steer us away from mass extinction, to approach the Holy Grail of conservation: zero extinction in our lifetime," Roman writes. "We need to strengthen prohibitory regulations like the Endangered Species Act," he says, and also put money toward landowner incentive plans, endangered species banking efforts, and studies to show the ecological and economic value of endangered species.

"Historically, the pressure has often been on species -- that they cost too much," he says, "I think that there is overwhelming evidence to show the contrary: that they can actually benefit communities." For example, protecting wetlands in Louisiana protects species while also providing very inexpensive storm protection. Or take the value of ecotourism. Manatees, a highly endangered sea mammal, account for nearly all the tourist dollars that come in Citrus County, Fla., says Roman, a fellow in UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

"It's really about ecosystems," he says, "You can't protect a species outside of its ecosystem and you can't protect an ecosystem without protecting its species."

Roman calls for a broad network of biodiversity parks to connect isolated islands of current habitat, biodiversity trust funds, better conservation of agricultural and rural lands that border wilderness areas, and, perhaps most importantly, shrinking the human ec
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Contact: Joshua Brown
joshua.e.brown@uvm.edu
802-656-3039
University of Vermont
Source:Eurekalert  

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