Chapter 12 – From Protecting Endangered Species to Promoting Biodiversity and Healthy Ecosystems


The 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) seeks to protects species from extinction due to human actions. When a species is listed as either endangered or threatened, the two agencies responsible for administering ESA—the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service—may designate critical habitat (essential places for species survival) and require recovery plans. ESA mandates that federal agencies ensure their actions create no jeopardy for listed species. Endangered (and some threatened) species are protected from being taken, a term ESA defines very broadly. While ESA has helped to preserve a number of species, few species fully recover and the law is seen as inadequate for protecting biodiversity. As concern about loss of biodiversity has reached new levels, pressure has mounted for new policies focused on habitat conservation both nationally and globally.