DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
Chapters:Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11IntroductionCase StudiesAcknowledgements
Chapter 1: Biodiversity and the Military Mission; By  Bruce A. Stein, Ph.D

Maintaining Readiness, Sustaining Biodiversity

Edwards AFB
Spring wildflowers, Edwards Air Force base, California. In years of abundant rainfall, Edwards AFB is ablaze with Mojave Desert wildflowers. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

The primary mission of the U.S. Department of Defense is to fight and win wars. To that end, military lands are important national assets for training military forces and testing and deploying new weapon systems. Training provides troops with the combat skills they require to be successful and to ensure their safety, and realistic training increases their success and survivability in combat. Similarly, realistic testing enhances the reliability and effectiveness of weapons systems to be used in combat. Realistic training and testing requires the availability of natural environments that reflect the conditions under which troops may expect to face combat operations. As a result, maintaining healthy and functioning ecosystems on the nation's military lands is not a luxury, but rather an essential component of maintaining military readiness.

Biodiversity is the overarching concept used to refer to the variety of species and ecosystems that make up the natural world, and maintenance of realistic training conditions depends on conservation of these biological and ecological resources. Many defense installations are found in some of the nation's most biologically rich regions, and accordingly, military lands harbor a particularly rich array of wildlife, including a significant number of the nation's federally listed endangered species. As a result, the Department of Defense's land management responsibilities include stewardship for hundreds of our nation's rarest species and most characteristic habitats. And while these stewardship obligations can create conflicts with operational needs, a growing body of experience – such as the successful recovery of red-cockaded woodpeckers at Fort Bragg – indicates that when these issues are approached creatively and with a solution-oriented spirit, biodiversity conservation and maintaining military readiness can go hand-in-hand.

Proceed to Chapter 2: Understanding Conservation Science

© Copyright 2008. NatureServe.

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About This Chapter's Author
Bruce A. Stein Ph.D is Vice President and Chief Scientist, NatureServe.

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