by Jamie Rappaport Clark, President, Defenders of Wildlife
© Jim Clark
Throughout my life, I have felt a keen sense of wonder for the array of wildlife around me and the role that it plays in keeping our planet alive and functioning—from the iconic grizzly bear that keeps prey in check and eats his weight many times over in insects, to tiny bees that we all rely on to pollinate our crops and flowers.
Here at Defenders, we all believe in the inherent value of wildlife and the natural world, regardless of whether we prize the animal, like the grizzly for its size and beauty, or we depend on it for survival.
In my first year as president at Defenders, we have embarked on a strategic planning process that will guide our conservation efforts. Our vision is a world where diverse wildlife populations in North America are secure and thriving, sustained by a network of healthy lands and waters. To reach this ideal, we have zeroed in on three approaches. First, we will do what we can to prevent wildlife and habitat from becoming imperiled in the first place. Certainly, this is most cost efficient and more effective than having to respond to a crisis. Second, for those species that are already in trouble, we will implement tools such as the Endangered Species Act and other proactive conservation efforts to protect them. And because we won’t be satisfied until vulnerable species are once again secure and thriving, we will work to restore wildlife populations and the habitats they depend upon.
As a wildlife biologist, I am excited about this approach and believe it will make us even more effective in the coming years. As the premier national organization focused on wildlife conservation and biodiversity, it is essential that we succeed. And as stewards of this planet, it is our moral responsibility to do whatever it takes. I know you share our vision. Together we will make it a reality!