WCS testimony at FY14 budget hearing emphasizes how conservation helps achieve U.S. national security and economic objectives in foreign policy Burma, Afghanistan, South Sudan among the places where conservation investments pay off

Washington, D.C. – March 14, 2013 – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) pressed for modest but consistent funding for international conservation in the next federal budget in testimony given to Congress today. WCS was invited to testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations on the upcoming Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

The work of WCS demonstrates how conservation helps achieve U.S. national security and economic objectives in foreign policy.

WCS has seen firsthand how good natural resource management can stabilize conflict prone regions while the exploitation and degradation of natural systems are driving insecurity. As an implementing partner of the U.S. government overseas, WCS is closely involved with wildlife trafficking and biodiversity conservation, emerging pandemic threats, deforestation and sustainable agricultural expansion, and building resilient communities in the face of increased natural disasters.

“While many conservation programs help save threatened species and landscapes, in the end they are about the people who live alongside the animals and within the landscapes,” said WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli. “Investments in international conservation help manage natural resources like arable land and fisheries, contain zoonotic disease outbreaks, and stop harmful trafficking by cartels. For these reasons we urge Congress to maintain support for these programs in the FY14 budget.”

The testimony highlights the contributions of investments by programs of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. Treasury in places such as Burma, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, and the Andean Amazon.

As Congress debates the nation’s fiscal challenges alongside national security and economic interests, it is important to note that international conservation comprises about 1% of U.S. foreign assistance, which, in turn, is only 1% of the federal budget. This modest investment in sustainable natural resource management in places like Afghanistan, Burma, central Africa, and elsewhere reduces conflict around scarce resources and serves to promote stability and avoid potential costly future military interventions.

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. undefined

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