Report available on the development and use of science for species of conservation priority in the Southeast

Forest managers routinely consider species of conservation priority in their plans and operations.  In many cases, however, scientific information about these species is limited. This creates challenges for landowners, agencies, and others, particularly when species are proposed for possible listing as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Science gaps are of immediate concern in the southeastern US where, over the next decade, a large fraction of the nation’s ESA listing decisions will be made.

Recently, Resources for the Future (RFF), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and NCASI convened a one-day dialogue to address science challenges associated with ESA listing and recovery decisions, and to explore scientific collaboration between government agencies and the private sector in the Southeast. The dialogue focused on ESA issues and programs in US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Region 4 which is in the southeastern US. Participants were drawn from businesses and federal and state practitioners active in the region.

Resources for the Future has now made available a summary of the dialogue in the form of a discussion paper entitled “Best Available Science and Imperiled Species Conservation: Challenges, Opportunities, and Partnerships.” The discussion paper was authored by James W. Boyd and Rebecca Epanchin-Niell of RFF. 

The abstract of the paper follows.

“This document reports on a March 2015 dialogue among businesses, NGOs, and federal and state conservation agencies focused on Endangered Species Act listing decisions and programs in the southeastern United States. Over the next decade, a large fraction of the nation’s species listing decisions will be made in the Southeast, where a large number of aquatic species may be at risk. Also, private sector land and water use plays a particularly important role in both potential threats to species and opportunities for conservation and recovery in the region. Participants described the volume and timing of Region 4 listing decisions, identified science gaps pertinent to those decisions, identified ways to maximize the decision relevance and benefits of science investment given limited financial resources and tight time frames, and assessed the possibility and virtues of science collaboration within the private sector and between the private sector and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.”


Boyd, J.W., and R. Epanchin-Niell. 2015. Best available science and imperiled species conservation: Challenges, opportunities, and partnerships. Resources for the Future Discussion Paper 15-38.