•  WCS’s Dr. John Robinson Speaks on Behalf of Multinational Species Conservation Funds to Ensure Programs Continue for Tigers, Great Apes, Marine Turtles, Elephants and Rhinos
  • Actor/Advocate Star of “The Vampire Diaries” Lends High-Profile Support to Threatened Species

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (July 28, 2011) – Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science Dr. John G. Robinson made the case for reauthorizing the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, which are key bipartisan conservation funding streams, in testimony before a House Natural Resources subcommittee today. Dr. Robinson was joined on the Congressional panel by actor and advocate Ian Somerhalder, who spoke passionately about the need for young people to engage national leadership on global species conservation.

Dr. Robinson told the subcommittee that the Multinational Species Conservation Funds (MSCF) are effective, targeted investments in global priority species such as tigers, elephants, rhinoceros, great apes and sea turtles. This program came about due to strong bipartisan support to address the threats responsible for species declines. Each of the species supported through these funds are subject to increased pressures from poaching, habitat destruction and other environmental factors.

Dr. Robinson’s testimony provided support for enactment of H.R. 50, Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2011, introduced by U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-AK); H.R. 1760, Great Ape Conservation Reauthorization Amendments Act of 2011, introduced by U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA); and H.R. 1761, Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2011, introduced by U.S. Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR).

“I thank the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs, Chairman John Fleming (R-LA), and the sponsors of these important bills for their attention to international species conservation,” said Dr. Robinson. “MSCF programs help to sustain wildlife populations, address threats by controlling illegal poaching, reducing human‐wildlife conflict, and protecting essential habitat. By working with local communities, they also improve people’s livelihoods, contribute to local and regional stability, and support U.S. security interests in impoverished regions.”

In a tough fiscal climate, the MSFC represents an inexpensive, efficient program that provides benefits beyond their stated objectives. U.S. foreign assistance costs approximately 1.3 percent of the federal budget, and the MSCF comprises only .02 percent of this foreign assistance spending. The MSCF are cost-effective because they create a multiplying effect for carefully chosen recipient organizations. The U.S. Department of the Interior recognized the value of the MSCF and calculated that the program generated 207 U.S. jobs and $22.6 million to the U.S. economy in FY2010.

Dr. Robinson concluded, “Congressional action on H.R. 50, H.R 1760 and H.R. 1761 will reaffirm the leadership of the U.S. Government within the global community, underscore U.S. commitment to international treaty obligations, and encourage coordinated efforts to save the world’s global priority species.”

WCS’s support for MSCF dates back to the inception of the program in 1990 and acts as one of more than 200 implementing partners of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  WCS also sits on the steering committee of the Multinational Species Coalition, a U.S.-based collection of 32 organizations that promote this program.

Chip Weiskotten: 202-624-8172; cweiskotten@wcs.org)
Mary Dixon: (347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide.  We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org