News & Insights

Creating conservation frontiers in a changing world

Earlier this year, the United Nations released a report on global biodiversity[1]. The report found that all kinds of species are declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.

Nearly 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within the next few decades.

The importance of this report cannot be understated - losses in plants and wildlife being reinforced by an ever-growing body of research, from bumble bees and moths, to sea turtles and gorillas.

Dan Salas Senior Consultant Senior Ecologist ESA

Dan Salas, Senior Principal, Environment

For me and my co-workers, we don’t just care about the environment; our daily work is helping maintain and restore sustainable ecology wherever we are working.

Our fieldwork often involves assessing and monitoring endangered animal and plant species, including the species that pollinate many of the foods we eat and plants we use. In the office, we are supporting businesses, federal and state agencies, local governments, and non-governmental organizations to restore biodiversity where it’s been lost.

The United Nations report highlighted that 75% of terrestrial environments are “severely altered” by human actions. To continue growing sustainably, conservation will become increasingly important for businesses and organizations. In recent years, global trends have seen more attention focused on the significant losses in critical pollinator species, like native wild bees and monarch butterflies. Our team has become partners in meaningful work addressing these biological and business needs.

As one example, our team has built a geospatial decision-making model called the Pollinator Opportunities Within Rights-of-Way Model. This model is already helping one transmission company in the Midwest take important actions to promote the conservation of pollinators, including bees, within their management footprint. Over the past three years, its results have lead to on-the-ground changes in how the company manages for pollinators. It has done so by providing clear direction on when and where to apply conservation as part of their business decisions.

In Ohio, our team helped develop a pollinator garden for the Ohio Department of Transportation as part of the state’s pollinator habitat efforts. While helping increase pollinator habitat, the garden educates visitors at an interstate highway rest stop on Ohio’s role in World War I and the symbol of the red poppy. A great example of blending history, veteran recognition, and conservation into an important project.

We also support academic institutions like the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in leading the way in nationwide partnerships that encourage conservation in creative ways. Over the past two years, we have supported a collaboration of over 40 partners from industry, agencies, and non-governmental organizations to create a large-scale conservation agreement for the monarch butterfly across the nation’s energy and transportation rights-of-ways.

While we work with endangered species of all kinds, our leadership in the area of pollinators continues to grow. Our experts in planning, ecology, conservation, and restoration are addressing these challenges head on. We are proud to be trusted advisors and collaborators helping lead this charge.

Author: Dan Salas is a Senior Principal of Ecology. He is based in Wisconsin, United States.

[1] The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/