Ecological and Sociopolitical Assessment of Congressional and Presidential Designation of Federal Protected Areas

Protected areas are one of the most effective means by which biodiversity is conserved, but are often criticized for either neglecting the importance of local communities or sacrificing conservation objectives for political expedience. In this study, we compared U.S. protected areas resulting from congressional designation vs. presidential designation with respect to their ecological context (using measures of biodiversity and climate refugial potential) and sociopolitical context (using measures of local support for conservation and reliance on natural resource-based industries). We found minimal differences between these designation modes for both ecological and sociopolitical variables. These results suggest that presidentially designated protected areas tend to be no more burdensome to local communities and no less valuable for ecological conservation than more widely accepted federal protected areas such as national parks, and they provide new evidence to inform the current debate over national monuments.

Read More

Stay informed

Join our email list for news and updates.