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Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem:  Issues and Opportunities

Afterword: The Role of The Nature Conservancy back to top

The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Conservancy has a long history of protecting areas of ecological significance to the Great Lakes. Over the past 43 years, Conservancy state chapters have acquired for conservation purposes some 98 thousand acres throughout the Great Lakes basin, at a cost of over 41 million dollars.

It is becoming increasingly clear, as illustrated by the analysis in this document, that even broader and more ambitious action will be necessary to protect biological resources over the long term. Not only are key areas too numerous to be secured through purchase, but species and communities depend upon ecological processes that operate over large landscapes subject to multiple human uses. These processes must be safeguarded in order for biological diversity to be truly protected. This will involve assisting local communities in finding sustainable ways of living within natural ecosystems.

In the Great Lakes basin, The Nature Conservancy's primary emphasis will continue to be on-the-ground protection activities. Over the next two years, the Conservancy will undertake a series of large-scale, sustainable, locally driven protection initiatives. These initiatives will protect globally significant biodiversity that depends on the Great Lakes ecosystem, and will address strategically important threats to that biological diversity. Ways will be sought to help local communities live compatibly with natural ecological systems. Through this work, much will be learned about how key threats can be addressed throughout the basin.

Because the basin's biodiversity resources are so vast and are sustained by processes that operate on such large scales, no one organization acting alone can hope to have a meaningful impact. In its work, the Conservancy will continue to seek and build local and regional partnerships that contribute directly to conserving biological diversity in key places.

The Conservancy will continue to work with the network of state and provincial Natural Heritage programs to monitor the status of biological diversity and address information gaps. Over the next two years, a framework for the systematic identification of aquatic biological diversity will be designed and piloted in the basin. The Conservancy will also assist Heritage programs in sharing biodiversity information widely and effectively for the design of conservation activities within the basin. The Conservancy will work with partners in the scientific community to develop a better understanding of how key ecosystems function and to better evaluate the principle threats to Great Lakes biodiversity.

Sharing of information and experience will be critical to the success of biodiversity conservation in the basin. As managers of the world's largest system of privately owned natural areas, the Conservancy is specially positioned to provide information on the management of lands for the conservation of natural diversity. The Conservancy will share this knowledge and learn from the experience of others through an electronic bulletin board service. This system will allow workers throughout the basin to access and contribute information, sharing it over great distances.

The Conservancy will also support efforts to foster a broad understanding among the basin's residents of the unique biological diversity of the Great Lakes ecosystem and the ecological processes which sustain it. The Conservancy will continue to focus our activities at the local level, sharing information with landowners and communities on important biodiversity features and how they can best be protected.

The Conservancy welcomes input to these intended actions and invites others to work with us in the protection of the outstanding biological diversity of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

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Appendix 1 back to top

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Center for the Great Lakes, A Summary of International Organizations and Agencies Affecting Wetlands in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River Basin, Review Draft, Center for the Great Lakes, Chicago, Illinois, 1992

Chapman, L. J., and D. F. Putnam, The Physiography of Southern Ontario, The Ontario Geological Survey, Special Volume 2, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 1984

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Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, Lake Michigan: An Ecosystem Approach for Remediation of Critical Pollutants and Management of Fish Communities, Great Lakes Fisheries Comminssion Special Publication 91-2, Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1991

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Hoffman, Wendy L., Stemming the Flow-Agrichemical Dealers and Pollution Prevention, Environmental Working Group, Washington, D. C., 1993

Hoose, Phillip M., Building an Ark-Tools for the Preservation of Natural Diversity through Land Protection, Island Press, Covelo, California, 1981

Interagency Wetlands Coordinating Body, Directory of Federal Land Management Agency Wetlands Contacts, Interagency Wetlands Coordinating Body, 1990

International Joint Commission, Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Research Inventory 1990/1991, International Joint Commission, 1992

International Joint Commission, Revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 as ammended by Protocol signed November 18, 1987, International Joint Commision, 1988

Keddy, Paul A., Water Level Fluctuations and Wetland Conservation, Wetlands of the Great Lakes Proceedings, Association of State Wetland Managers, pp. 79-91, 1990

Keddy, Paul A., and A. Reznicek, Great Lakes Vegetation Dynamics: The Role of Fluctuating Water Levels and Buried Seeds, J. of Great Lakes Res. 12(1):25-36, 1986

Labatt, Lori and Bruce Littlejohn, Islands of Hope-Ontario's Parks and Wilderness, Firefly Books LTD, Willowdale, Ontario, 1992

Lafferty, Michael B.,-editor, Ohio's Natural Heritage, The Ohio Academy of Science, Columbus, Ohio, 1979

McNeely, Jeffery A., Kenton R. Miller, Walter V. Reid, Russel A. Mittermier and Timothy B. Werner, Conserving the World's Biological Diversity, The World Bank, World Resources Institute, Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund US,Washington D.C., IUCN, Gland Switzerland, 1990

Mahan, John and Ann, Wild Lake Michigan, Voyageur Press, Stillwater, Minnesota, 1993

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Meeting State and National Wetland Goals: A Wetland Conservation Strategy for Michigan, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan, 1993

Michigan Natural Features Inventory, MDNR, Historical Wetlands of the Saginaw Bay Watershed, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, Michigan, 1993

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Mihalyi, Sue, The Lake Ontario Health and Environment Directory, Lake Ontario Organizing Network/Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Syracuse, New York, 1991

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Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, A Natural Heritage Areas Strategy for Ontario-Responding to the Endangered Spaces Challenge February 17, 1992 Draft for Discussion, Provincial Parks and Natural Heritage Policy Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Toronto, Ontario, 1992

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Sierra Club Great Lakes Program, The Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Agenda, Sierra Club Great Lakes Program, Madison, Wisconsin, 1993

Smith, Paul G. R., Towards the Protection of Great Lakes Natural Heritage Areas, Heritage Resources Centre, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, 1987

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The Nature Conservancy, Natural Heritage Program-Model Operations Manual, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington Virginia, 1988

The Nature Conservancy, Tools for Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, 1993

The Nature Conservancy, Options for Identfying and Protecting Strategic Fish and Wildlife Habitats and Recreation Sites: A General Handbook, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, 1991

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Reducing Risk: Appendix A-The Report of the Ecologu and Welfare Subcommittee, Science Advisory Board, Washington, D.C., 1990

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Watershed Protection: A Catalog of Federal Programs, Assessment and Watershed Protection Division, Washington, D. C., 1993

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bay/Estuary Program Prospectus, Division of Habitat Conservation, Washington, D. C., 1993

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Planning for Lake Water Quality Protection, Department of Environmental Conservation, Waterbury, Vermont, 1990

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Shoreland Zoning Options for Towns, Department of Environmental Conservation, Waterbury, Vermont, 1990

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Lake Protection through Town Planning-A Suggested Process, Department of Environmental Conservation, Waterbury, Vermont, 1989

Weller, Phil, Natural Heritage Areas and Programs in the US Great Lakes States, Draft For Review and Comment, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, 1989

Wetzel, Robert G., Limnology, W. B. Saunders Company, 1975

Wetzel, Robert G., Wetlands as Metabolic Gates, J. of Great Lakes Res. 18(4):529-532, 1992

Whillans, Thomas H., Assessing Threats to Fishery Values of Great Lakes Wetlands, Wetlands of the Great Lakes Proceedings, Association of State Wetlands Managers, pp. 156-164, 1990

Wilson, Alexander, The Culture of Nature, Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1992

Wilson, Edward O., The Diversity of Life, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992

World Wildlife Fund Canada, Protected Areas and Aboriginal Interests in Canada, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Toronto, Ontario, 1993



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