March/April 2019 ChariTea: Defenders of WIldlife
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When decisions impacting wildlife are made, it is necessary to take all the best available science into account. Unfortunately, large-scale decisions are frequently made without these considerations and the results can have serious consequences for wildlife and the landscapes and resources they depend upon.
When wildlife is in danger, they can't speak up for themselves — so we speak for them.
Defenders acts as the voice for wildlife at all levels of government, bringing the issues that impact our most vulnerable species to the attention of key decision makers. Our experts provide key conservation data and innovative solutions to help legislators, agencies, and communities make science-based decisions where wildlife is concerned.
FIGHTING FOR WILDLIFE ON CAPITOL HILL
Our team in Washington, D.C. advocates for wildlife on Capitol Hill, alerting legislators to key conservation issues and arming them with the information they need to demand the best solution in the House or Senate. We meet regularly with legislators and their staff to help them better understand the impacts of their decisions on wildlife and connect them with their constituents who feel strongly that their elected officials must also represent the interests of our wildlife and wild places. We also work to maximize our legislative impact by coordinating with, and seeking to leverage the resources of, other organizations with common interests.
WORKING WITH STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
State and local policies and legislation are as critical to wildlife as those at the federal level – sometimes even more so. Our teams across the country work with city, county, and state governments to provide the same kind of vital expertise and conservation data that we do at the federal level, but tailored to local wildlife and landscapes. With this kind of local outreach, we can help shape policies that make key regions more wildlife-friendly, and fend off attacks that could put vulnerable species in greater danger.
MISSION AND VISION
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.
© Phyllis Picardi
Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is a major national conservation organization focused solely on wildlife and habitat conservation and the safeguarding of biodiversity. We believe in the inherent value of wildlife and the natural world, and this singular focus defines our important niche in the environmental and conservation community and serves as the anchor for our organizational values.
Defenders’ approach is direct and straightforward - We protect and restore imperiled species throughout North America by transforming policies and institutions and promoting innovative solutions – and this approach makes a lasting difference for wildlife and its habitat:
- On the ground at the state and local level, developing practical, innovative programs that protect and restore key species and habitats and inform our national policy work.
- With state, national and international policy makers to secure laws and policies that protect animals and their habitats. We are widely recognized by our peers and policymakers for the effectiveness of our advocacy work, particularly with the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture and are known for being the most effective advocate for wildlife funding in the federal appropriations process.
- In the courts, establishing legal safeguards for native wildlife and fighting efforts to roll back environmental protections. We act as legal counsel on behalf of a population segment that cannot act for itself, North America’s wildlife.
OUR VISION: DIVERSE WILDLIFE POPULATIONS IN NORTH AMERICA ARE SECURE AND THRIVING, SUSTAINED BY A NETWORK OF HEALTHY LANDS AND WATERS.
What does success look like for Defenders? Our conservation vision succinctly describes the elements that define our success:
- Diverse populations: Our conservation efforts are targeted at the full range of vulnerable North American biodiversity, from plants to pollinators to predators. We recognize that we cannot protect any species without simultaneously protecting the diversity of wildlife and habitats on which it relies.
- North America: While we do not set geographic boundaries on our work, we primarily focus on species of North America, including transboundary terrestrial and marine species that migrate through its waters.
- Secure and thriving: We are working for the day when vulnerable North American species rebound to the point that they are secure — no longer threatened with rapid decline or extinction — and thriving in robust, well-distributed populations.
- Network of healthy lands and waters: Wildlife has the greatest chance of being secure and thriving if it is supported by a transnational network of public and private lands, rivers and coastal waters, core natural areas and working landscapes.
To help attain our vision, Defenders’ strategic plan provides a framework for setting objectives and allocating resources across the organization. This strategic approach prioritizes long-term solutions with measurable results to help ensure that Defenders is an effective voice for wildlife conservation. Clearly defining our vision and focusing our resources will help us to better ensure that North America’s spectacular wild animals and habitats will be here for the next generation.