Save Land to Protect Biological Diversity

The author of the article "Heading Off Clashes Over At-Risk Species," May 3, is right on the mark in his analysis of the threats to biological diversity and the need to reduce our reliance on the Endangered Species Act.

Saving species means saving land. Although the public lands, including national forests and wildlife refuges, provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife, these areas alone will not suffice if we are to retain all our native species. If we hope to conserve biodiversity and avoid the need to continue adding to the endangered species list, we must encourage conservation of habitat on private lands.

Of particular importance are private lands linking larger blocks of public lands. They provide migration routes and thus prevent the isolation of wildlife populations - which too often leads to erosion of the gene pool and eventually extinction.

To encourage landowners to help create a network of habitat that we call "lifelands," there must be a system of tax incentives and other inducements. We hope to foster a debate on the most promising options for rewarding landowners for their conservation efforts. Mark Shaffer, Washington Vice President, Resource Planning and Economics The Wilderness Society

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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