Nature -- from ocean fisheries that provide more than one-sixth of the world’s food to forests that slow climate change and filter water -- supports thriving communities. Unfortunately, many of the world’s plant and animal species, and the wild spaces they occupy, are adversely impacted by habitat destruction, poaching, illegal wildlife trafficking, invasive species and pollution. Not only do such forces threaten the intrinsic and ecological value of nature, but they also have security and economic implications because a degraded natural environment jeopardizes peoples’ livelihoods and destabilizes local communities. Protecting nature promotes stability, community well-being and economic vitality.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is the nation’s leading nature conservation agency, responsible for protecting wildlife, habitat and wilderness found in 20% of the nation’s land area from desert landscapes through forested ranges, over mountain passes, to Arctic tundra. Interior manages renowned natural wonders in the National Park System, critical wildlife habitat in National Wildlife Refuges, and many of the last wild places in America designated under the Wilderness Act. Interior is also responsible for wildlife such as migratory birds and endangered and threatened species throughout America, and is the lead agency responsible for regulating trade to protect wildlife populations. Interior is home to world-class experts in the fields of wildlife conservation, protected area management and natural sciences.
Interior’s efforts, by necessity, are international as nature does not recognize national or political boundaries. For example, the life cycles of many species of birds, butterflies, sea turtles, and sharks involve migration between areas in the United States and Latin America, Africa or Asia. To protect these species and their habitats, the U.S. must work across national borders. Accordingly, Interior cooperates with foreign partners to build the capacity of people, governments, and institutions to identify, value, and conserve wildlife and their habitats overseas, to the benefit of America’s own wildlife populations. The Department works around the globe to establish protected parks and to reduce human-wildlife conflict, the spread of wildlife diseases, invasive species, the bushmeat trade, and other threats to nature. It is only through such cooperation with our international partners that American can ensure that nature can survive for future generations.