Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Udall (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), co-chairs of the U.S. Senate International Conservation Caucus, introduced the Global Conservation Act of 2012 (GCA), legislation to streamline and enhance our nation's efforts to preserve and protect critical wildlife habitat. By seeking to better manage the federal government's existing conservation programs and making them more cost effective and efficient, this bipartisan bill will strengthen the capacity of the United States to lead the international community in reversing renewable natural resource degradation trends.
"Preserving our nation's wildlife and scenic treasures spurs job creation and bolsters our economy as people engage in activities such as tourism, sport hunting and recreational fishing," Senator Portman said. "This bill will establish a process for identifying innovative approaches to further enhance the economic benefits of conservation both at home and abroad."
"Our effort would ensure that U.S. and international conservation efforts are coordinated and more effective," Senator Udall said. "In addition to the importance of maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, the protection and sound management of natural resources around the world is vital to our national security and the stability of other nations."
"At a time when our world's resources are under increasing pressure from climate change and development, it is critical that we have coordinated and effective efforts to protect high priority regions," Senator Snowe said. "A coordinated conservation strategy is absolutely essential for maintaining long-term economic growth, while also ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are being utilized consistent with both national security and environmental objectives."
The U.S. produces one-third of all global pharmaceuticals, and medicines derived from natural sources have a market value of nearly $150 billion a year. Enactment of the GCA would facilitate the use of U.S. international conservation to help ensure that these natural sources continue to be vibrant. In addition, unfair competition from illegally harvested timber in developing countries costs U.S. businesses about $1 billion annually. Passage of the GCA would facilitate the international coordination needed to address illegal timber harvesting in a manner that protects the U.S. agricultural economy.
By facilitating more sustainable natural resource management in developing nations, the GCA also would serve to address 21st-century security challenges in a manner that is more cost effective. Increased competition for fresh water, forests, arable land, fish and other natural resources can contribute to international instability.