Admission to IUCN: Conservation Force has been admitted as a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN. It is also known as the World Conservation Union and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network with more than 1,000 government and NGO organizations and 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.
Conservation Force’s membership application has been pending for several years, and other organizations, such as Safari Club International, have been denied membership on more than one occasion. The admission process is difficult, as applicants must document that they are primarily conservation organizations. They must share the mission of the IUCN for a just world that values and conserves nature. One’s mission must align with the IUCN’s to “conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to insure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”
The IUCN has a professional staff of over 1,000 in 80 offices around the world from Washington, DC, to its headquarters in Gland, Switzerland, near Geneva. It holds World Congresses every four years that go on for two full weeks or more. It works on literally thousands of projects in a framed global program. No one else can claim that. Its membership is made up of both governments (110) and the NGOs (over 800). It is an official observer at the United Nations General Assembly. It has major commissions, including the Environmental Law Commission; the Environmental, Economic and Social Policy Commission; and the Species Survival Commission that itself has more than 100 specialist groups.
One of IUCN’s renowned specialist groups is the Sustainable Use Specialist Group. This group originated the modern concept of “sustainable use” that has become a household word today. Yours truly has been on that Group from its inception in the early 1990s, as have other Conservation Force board members. There is no doubt that the concept would not have the reach and effect it has if the IUCN had not been its birthplace. The importance of the concept of sustainable use, and hence IUCN, cannot be overstated.
As an individual, I’ve long served on a number of the Specialist Groups of IUCN, including the Antelope Specialist Group, Deer Specialist Group, and Sustainable Use Specialist Group. You can’t believe how well this has helped me serve you. Conservation Force Board Member Philippe Chardonnet is the Co-Chair of the Antelope Specialist Group and member of the Cat Specialist Group. The African Lion Working Group that Philippe and I serve on is an affiliate of IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group and others. There is no doubt in my mind that the IUCN is one of the most important forums in the world, and our membership will help us further the conservation of wildlife and wild places even better.
This development coincides with the recent news that Conservation Force is truly one of the leading conservation NGOs in Africa. I previously told you about the study that documented Conservation Force as 19th from the top out of 280 expatriate NGOs operating in Africa and one of only a few operating in the greatest number of countries on the continent. With those credentials and the IUCN and Specialist Group memberships, we will be better able to serve all those that support what we do.
Polar Bear Enhancement Permits Denied Under MMPA: The seven test permits to import polar bear taken from the Gulf of Boothia under the “enhancement” exception of the Marine Mammal Protection Act have been denied. On February 2, 2009 the USF&WS’s Division of Management Authority sent a single two page denial to the applicants and Conservation Force, which represents the applicants.
This enhancement method is the only possible remaining means of importing polar bear now that it is treated as “depleted” by operation of law under the MMPA. The Gulf of Boothia was carefully selected as the test permit location because it has a large, growing population that has been harvested below quota in the correct sex ratio and is in the belt of habitat that is not projected to melt in the next one-half century. Those facts can’t really be disputed, so what went wrong?
First, the Service said “it is not evident that sport hunting actually reduces the number of bears taken from the set quota, nor provides a means to contribute significantly to maintaining or increasing the number of polar bears….” “Further,” the Service said, “the applicant does not present information or provide evidence that the import of sport hunted trophies would be a factor addressed in a conservation or recovery plan for polar bear.” The enhancement activity must be the type or kind of thing that would be consistent “with the conservation (or) recovery plan adopted (or expected in such a plan) for the species or stock.”
Of course, we did address those issues thoroughly, but will do so again in the reconsideration (administrative appeal) process. This population does not need a “recovery plan” and the “conservation plan” for a fact has long included hunting. It only needs to be a conservation “or” a recovery plan and obviously “recovery” is not called for.
Moreover, the hunting provides the highest revenue and incentives to manage the bear sustainably and to stay within quota, to be selective in harvest (males over females) and generally to maintain the population because of its greatly enhanced value. If the permits were granted it would also act as incentive for other areas to better manage their bear to get and maintain permits from their areas as well.
Frankly, we are amazed at the difficulty the USF&WS is creating on this and other trophy import fronts. In the listing rule, they had to acknowledge the benefits of the sport hunting, but then they deny the benefits for these permits. And in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the government has just filed their brief in opposition to letting in the approximately 60 trophies taken the spring before the listing. Why? They have raised every possible procedural court rule and technical reason, while avoiding the real rights and conservation issues. It is shameful to hurt those hunters unexpectedly affected when the judge made the listing effective immediately solely because of the USF&WS’s admitted violation of the non-discretionary deadlines for making a final listing determination. The hunters are being punished for the government’s malfeasance. The same is true of the Center for Biological Diversity, which purports to be an environmental law firm. They have filed a 50-page opposition brief in the 9th Circuit to the importation of the trophies taken last spring. Why? What is to be gained?
It costs a great deal in attorney fees to oppose the singular request to let the trophies be imported. Depriving hunters of their trophies must be their agenda. Somebody does not like hunters. Yours truly wrote both the USF&WS and the CBD to back off of their senseless opposition, but they are fighting at full throttle against the import of those trophies already taken.
Please help us see this through. We need your support and the support of all those you know. Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to Conservation Force at PO Box 278, Metairie, LA 70004-0278; or online at www. conservationforce.org/donate.html. - John J. Jackson, III.