Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Observer 108
Conservation Through Science

Charting the Future of PRBO

Daniel Evans

Looking ahead into the 21st century, we don't need a crystal ball to predict that environmental problems will become increasingly complex. Mounting population pressures will expand development, increase the use of limited natural areas, and intensify the exploitation of all resources. These additional pressures will accelerate the already alarming rates of decline of many bird species. The fewer and smaller areas of natural habitat remaining - parks, preserves, and surrounding areas - will all require more intensive management to accommodate multiple uses (which, to date, have often been incompatible).

To assure that PRBO works effectively to protect birds wherever and however possible, we are looking ahead and determining how best to apply our resources and skills. With a perspective that emphasizes sound science, PRBO will play an increasingly vital role - helping direct resource management decisions, develop more effective restoration projects, and increase the public's awareness of conservation issues.

Our staff and Board of Directors recently completed a thorough review of PRBO's 31 current projects. Our goal was to establish priorities that would assure our effectiveness as we enter the 21st century. Three common themes emerged that link all of PRBO's efforts:
  • Identification and protection of threatened and endangered species;

  • Protection of disappearing or heavily impacted habitats or ecosystems;

  • Reducing the impact of practices in natural resource management that critically affect birds and other wildlife.
  • A new concept, of paramount importance, emerged from our planning efforts. Conservation and research efforts have shifted since the 1970s when the Endangered Species Act was passed. More recently, the concept of ecosystem management and protection has emerged from acknowledging the importance of interdependencies between species and their physical and biological surroundings. PRBO is already looking to the next level of action. We realize that, in order to maintain the quality and diversity of habitat that wildlife depends upon, we must expand our understanding of ecological processes that affect natural systems - including natural disturbance such as occasional wildfire or flooding.

    The efforts of staff, board, and other associates have helped us to define a cohesive mission for the future. After considerable discussion and thought, a special Task Force, comprised of Board and staff, agreed upon the following mission statement that more clearly defines our priorities and goals:

    PRBO works to conserve birds and the environment, using science to understand and find solutions to problems that threaten wildlife populations and ecosystems.

    The planning efforts of our board and staff will guarantee PRBO's position at the vanguard of conservation and field research as we enter the 21st century.

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    Point Reyes Bird Observatory
    Copyright 1997