As we mark the end of Barack Obama’s time as America’s President, we can also bring attention to the fact that he has helped the world of conservation more than any other US president in history.
Pleasing environmentalists worldwide, during his eight years in office, Obama has protected areas of land and sea which cover an area nine times the size of the UK, which exceeds the 290 million acres protected by President Theodore Roosevelt, the founder of US National Parks.
His 548 million acres of protected habitat includes mountain woodland, coral reefs, rainforests and Arctic tundra, to name just a few, whilst also creating the two largest marine reserves in the world and the second largest desert reserve.
In January 2015, Obama went ahead with expanding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by 12 million acres, despite it being against the wishes of the oil and gas industry who had planned to drill in the reserve, and were consequentially blocked from doing so.
John Hocevar, the Oceans Campaign Director for Green Peace, commented on Obama’s conservation efforts by saying, “Of course, we always want more, but on protected areas [he] has done reasonably well. It is really important the US leads on marine conservation issues, and he did this at various essential moments.”
Another Obama-driven victory for conservation was the creation of the Ross Sea marine reserve in Antarctica, which is a habitat twice the size of Texas, and took years of negotiation with Russia and China before development was set in place. The marine reserve is now home to an array of wildlife, including seals, penguins and whales.
Obama also focused on the protection of individual species including backing a law which made shark fishing more sustainable, joining a coalition of conservation groups with the US interior department to rescue the Tanzanian Kihansi spray toad from extinction, and naming the endangered bison as America’s national mammal.
Global director at the Nature Conservancy, Lynn Scarlett, believes that Obama’s conservation progress is owed to him building on the existing work of past public figures. She said, “It’s like he looked at what other administrations had done, and took it a lot further. Rather than going for small-scale projects, he has been planning conservation schemes at a very large-scale.”
Jon Jarvis, the director of the US National Park Service, has commented on Obama’s conservation record by saying, “It’s comprehensive, it’s marine, it’s terrestrial, it’s historic, it’s high impact. He has set a high bar for the world.”
Only time will tell how much more positive conservation work will be done by the new US President, Donald Trump.
About The Author
Jess Murray is a wildlife filmmaker and conservation blogger, having recently returned from studying wildlife and conservation in South Africa, she is now striving to spread awareness about the truth behind faux conservation facilities throughout the world. You can follow Jess on Facebook Here
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