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Endangered and Threatened Species Recovery Program

Ecosystem Approach to Recovery


JPG-Tracking Colorado squawfish

Often it is not recognized that the Endangered Species Act is ecosystem and habitat oriented. However, major sections of the Act focus on the conservation of ecosystems upon which endangered and threatened species depend. As human population and consumption accelerates the fragmentation, alteration, and degradation of native ecosystems, our endemic species require more thoughtful and often intensive management. Consideration of ecosystem integrity in prelisting, listing, and recovery activities is of utmost importance in actually helping to conserve ecosystems and the diversity they provide.

Recognizing that several listed species may share geographic locations and/or face common threats, the Service seeks opportunities to combine several listed, proposed, and/or candidate species in one recovery plan. This approach, known as the "multi-species" or "ecosystem" approach, can improve the rate, fiscal efficiency, and effectiveness of recovery planning and implementation for listed species and may obviate the need to list candidate species.

Some examples of ecosystem-based recovery plans that have been prepared to address multiple listed species' recovery needs in a single ecosystem follow:

The Service will continue to emphasize conservation of species through a multi-species or ecosystem approach. More and more the Service is recognizing that concentration on conserving individual species from extinction is inadequate when other interdependent species that are members of the same ecosystem continue to decline. The Service is directing increased attention to producing multi-species or ecosystem recovery plans that address the needs of other species that are not primary targets of the plan.
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