EarthSky // Interviews // Biodiversity Posted Nov 12, 2008

Robert Bonnie says agreement protects both wildlife and landowners

Photo Credit: Dean Frobes
Photo Credit: Dean Frobes

Robert Bonnie of the Environmental Defense Fund talks about an agreement that would require individual landowners to work to benefit an endangered species on their land. In return, landowners wouldn’t be subject to more regulation.


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The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed to protect rare wildlife and habitat in the U.S. But it sometimes had the opposite effect.

Robert Bonnie: If you’re a land owner who has suitable habitat, there may be an incentive to harvest that forest before species shows up. You might be worried that if you go out and restore habitat for an endangered species, that your reward for that might be additional regulation under the Endangered Species Act.

Robert Bonnie, of the Environmental Defense Fund, has been working with the Fish and Wildlife Service to get the word out about a newer regulation called the Safe Harbor Agreement. It allows individual landowners to make an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stating that if they work to benefit an endangered species on their land, they won’t be subject to more regulation.

Robert Bonnie: It’s a good deal for rare species because we get more habitat, on more lands. And it’s a good deal for landowners as well, because it provides them the flexibility they need to manage their lands to meet their own human needs.

Bonnie believes that landowners want to be rare species-friendly.

Robert Bonnie: The hope is that we can make it make it in landowners’ best interests to protect habitat, so we can tap into stewardship ethic that many landowners have.

Our thanks today to the American Forest Foundation, leading the way in conservation and education.

Our thanks to:
Robert Bonnie
Vice President
Land Conservation and Wildlife
Environmental Defense Fund
Washington, D.C.

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2 Responses to Robert Bonnie says agreement protects both wildlife and landowners

  1. The only way to get landowners to do anything to help the environment is to tap into their selfish instincts. There’s no such thing as altruism; only be providing monetary incentive will any changed be effected.

  2. Liu chia wei says:

    You repeated the term “make it” twice in the last paragraph.

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