Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli emphasized today the connection between protecting wildlife abroad with economic and national security at home. He made this connection while testifying about the Fiscal Year 2012 budget before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior.
Calvelli testified that international conservation programs create job opportunities and development within often unstable regions, reducing the chances of conflict while also opening up potential outlets for U.S. trade. Domestically, landscape scale conservation, such as the Special Areas of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska, is especially important in balancing wildlife conservation with energy development and subsistence hunting practices of first nations.
“I thank the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Ranking Member James P. Moran (D-VA) for the opportunity to testify to the importance of these programs on America’s economic and national security,” said Calvelli. “In addition to the trade and national security impacts, U.S. investment is critical to maintaining our place as global position as a conservation leader.”
Calvelli called for continuing support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) State and Tribal Wildlife Grants; the USFWS Multinational Species Conservation Fund; the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders program, including the Critically Endangered Species Fund; the U.S. Forest Service International Program; and the U.S. Geological Survey Climate Science Centers.
Calvelli said, “The effects of these programs go far beyond saving the flora and fauna of faraway lands. For example, forest management though FSIP combats illegal logging, which costs this U.S. timber industry approximately $1 billion annually. Here at home, the economy benefits from more stable trade markets abroad. In addition, conservation can bring often conflicting countries together for a common cause, which can build diplomatic relationships and prevent conflict.”
WCS also testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies on Thursday, April 14. Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) heard details on the benefits of international conservation on national security in places like Afghanistan and Southern Sudan, where WCS national park building and natural resource management programs are sparking economic growth in the tourism sector and stability in the region.