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Conservation of biological diversity in the United States
Salwasser, H. (1993). Conservation of biological diversity in the United States, in: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. pp. 313-337
In: Fenger, M.A. et al. (Ed.) (1993). Our living legacy: Proceedings of a Symposium on Biological Diversity. The Royal British Columbia Museum: Victoria. ISBN 0-7718-9355-8. XIII, 392 pp., more

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  • Salwasser, H.

    The United States does not have a comprehensive policy or strategy for conserving biological diversity. Vet a strong foundation for conservation of biological diversity is provided by the aggregate of environmental laws and policies at federal and state levels, an abundance of zoos, botanical gardens and gene banks, and a large and diverse system of protected lands and waters, both public and private. The framework of scientific knowledge, inventories, conservation actions and education needs to be strengthened. But the foundation for a comprehensive conservation strategy already exists. Biological diversity is the variety of life and its processes. It encompasses the spectrum of biological organization from genes to biomes and the spectrum of geographic locations from micro sites to the biosphere. Significant losses of biological diversity could affect the future well being of human life. They will certainly affect the structure and function of the planet's ecological systems. Extinction of species and simplification of ecosystems diminish future resource options and reduce the availability of natural areas to provide life-supporting ecological services. Major factors that affect biological diversity include: conversion of wild areas to agriculture, industry and other human uses, toxic chemicals, pollution and global climate change; overuse of species by humans; fragmentation of habitats and populations; restoration of species and ecosystems; and management of wild areas for sustainable uses of natural resources. The last two factors are useful in countering the potentially negative effects of the others. Reasons for conserving as much of the variety of life as possible include its intrinsic values, its roles in providing current and future resources, and securing environmental quality. Biological diversity, however, is so complex and intangible that its conservation cannot be approached without focusing unspecific elements and processes. Same key elements include genetic resources, populations of species, biological communities and regional ecosystems. In setting goals for biological diversity we must address specific, achievable objectives for the principal elements of concern in an area. These goals must be integrated in three major ways. First, they must be integrated into overall plans for resource management. Second, goals and actions must be integrated up and down geographic scales so that actions taken at individual sites or stands contribute to goals for watershed conditions, which in turn contribute to goals for regional ecosystems that can sustain both the desired environmental quality and resource products to meet human needs. And third, goals and actions must be integrated across the biological spectrum of genetic resources, species, communities, and ecosystems. This increased need for integration and coordination is a daunting challenge that is fraught with scientific, technological, and political barriers and uncertainties.

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