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Trojan Horse Containing Anti-Conservation Measures Passes U.S. House
The Wilderness Society strongly condemned the passage of the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” (H.R. 4089) in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 17.
This benign-sounding bill contains Trojan Horse language that undercuts the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the president’s ability to use the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments. The bill also contained controversial anti-wilderness provisions that members attempted to remedy by offering amendments that were resoundingly beaten by ideological extremists.
“The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act is nothing more than a Trojan Horse masquerading as a pro-hunting, pro-fishing bill,” said Dave Alberswerth, avid waterfowl hunter and senior policy advisor at The Wilderness Society. “It threatens many bedrock environmental and preservation protections, such as the Wilderness Act and the Antiquities Act.”
The Wilderness Society opposes the following provisions:
- A last-minute addition to the bill that eviscerates the president’s authority to use the Antiquities Act: A provision added today prohibits the establishment of national monuments without approval by a state legislature and governor.
- Provision undercuts the Wilderness Act: Section 104(e) should be called the “Motorize Our Wilderness Areas Provision” because it could allow motorized access, road construction and logging and energy development in wilderness areas.
- Provision provides an exemption from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Section 104(c)(1)(B) prohibits the use of NEPA in making hunting and fishing management decisions on our public lands and forests.
- Provision limits the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)’s ability to stop vandalism in national monuments: Section 203 of Title II prevents the BLM from protecting petroglyphs, cacti and other significant objects from shooting vandalism within the national monuments it manages.
While the stated purpose of the bill is to promote recreational hunting and fishing on our nation’s public lands and national forests—a goal The Wilderness Society supports—it actually does nothing to address the most critical issues facing American sportsmen. This includes lack of funding and commitment from Congress for vital fish, wildlife and habitat conservation programs, and the need to better balance energy development with safeguards for wildlife habitats.
“It is ironic that some members of Congress have chosen to attack the Antiquities Act today, given that the Obama administration has chosen to use this Act in the most open and transparent way in the history of this law,” said Jeremy Garncarz, senior director of the Wilderness Support Center at The Wilderness Society. “The Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, since its enactment in 1906.”
The House passage of the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act now opens the door for other harmful legislation to move in the House and Senate. The Wilderness Society and our 500,000 members will continue to fight legislation like the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act that gives away and sells off the public lands and forests that are owned by all Americans.
As described in our report, Wilderness Under Siege, America’s great outdoors are under attack from members of Congress who would rather squander our great outdoors than protect it for future generations.
For more information, click here.
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
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