The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of the world’s oldest, most comprehensive laws designed to prevent species extinctions and recover imperiled species. Given the challenges with species recovery, programs focused on conserving species before they require ESA-listing have the potential to provide a suite of conservation and economic benefits, including aligning the interests of project developers, private landowners, conservation advocates, and the government.
ACS and colleagues publish a policy piece in the upcoming issue of the journal Environmental Policy and Law outlining a framework for pre-listing conservation.
Pre-listing conservation programs can complement and improve the performance of existing ESA programs by encouraging actions that achieve net conservation benefits for at-risk speciesupstream of potentially costly regulation. Existing policy and regulations under the ESA can facilitate earlier conservation action by federal and non-federal entities. However, strong incentives will be needed in order to significantly increase early conservation activities enough to produce substantial net conservation benefits for candidate and at-risk species before ESA-listing. Those incentives include regulatory predictability, streamlined programmatic processes, and funding. Properly designed and implemented, pre-listing conservation programs have the potential to deliver more funding for species conservation and stronger incentives for environmental stewardship on private lands.