The Detroit News Op Ed: Biodiversity bill jeopardizes Michigan's natural resources
Friday, March 15, 2013
Professors Brad Cardinale and Johannes Foufopoulos coauthored an opinion piece opposing Senate Bill 78 in the editorial section of The Detroit News, March 14, 2013. The following is excerpted from the article:
"The bill recently passed the Senate and is headed for a vote in the House. The bill modifies Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to explicitly prohibit state agencies from managing state land for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity. The bill also alters the definition of conservation to focus on extraction and economic gain from natural resources and eliminates a requirement that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manage ecosystems like forests in a manner that ensures their recovery.
"Senate Bill 78 is an irresponsible piece of legislation that jeopardizes the health, productivity, and sustainability of Michigan state lands. The social and economic benefits of maintaining healthy diverse ecosystems are well-established. There is abundant evidence that ecosystems with a greater variety of species are more efficient and productive; for example, forests with a greater variety of tree species produce significantly more wood than forests with fewer species. Diverse forests are also better able to resist invasive species, and minimize the frequency of outbreaks of economically-damaging pests and diseases like the Emerald Ash Borer, or Sudden Oak Death that kill commercially important trees. Managing for biodiversity is one of the primary ways to maintain healthy, productive, and sustainable ecosystems.
"Senate Bill 78 would also have unintended economic consequences for Michigan. To comply with the 2004 Sustainable Forestry Act, Michigan earned certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) — the two leading certification organizations in North America. Both organizations require that conservation of biodiversity is explicitly included in state management plans because it is well-recognized that diverse forests are healthier and more sustainable. SB 78 puts these certifications at risk and would jeopardize the ability of Michigan businesses to compete in rapidly expanding markets that demand "green" products. A competitive disadvantage in the marketplace is the last thing Michigan businesses need as we recover from our recession.
"For every Michiganian who believes in managing our state resources sustainably, we encourage you to read this bill and to express your hopes and vision for Michigan's natural treasures to your representatives."
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