National Park Service Director Takes Chair Of North American Wilderness Committee

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis has taken over as chair of the North American Wilderness Committee, an international organization focused on boosting wilderness conservation.

The committee is a coalition of seven U.S., Canadian, and Mexican federal land management agencies. It was established to "foster collaboration to ensure conservation, management and recovery of North American wilderness and other protected land- and seascapes; contribute to conserving the ecosystem integrity of wilderness in North America; help stakeholders achieve effective, efficient, and mutually beneficial wilderness conservation in North America; and foster communication regarding the management, conservation, and sustainable use of wilderness," a Park Service release said.

“This is an opportunity for the National Park Service to continue its leadership role in worldwide conservation and preservation,” Director Jarvis said. “National parks were America’s best idea, and that idea is one of our finest exports. We share habitats and species with our neighbors in Canada and Mexico and we face common challenges. This North American Wilderness Committee will help us face those challenges together.”

The committee came to being in late 2009. During its first 18 months of its work focused on transboundary cooperation, training, networking, ecosystem services, marine wilderness and monitoring. In the year ahead, agency staff plans to "cooperate and collaborate around issues of climate change, connectivity and monitoring, and the values of protected areas," the release said.

The other American committee members are Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management; Greg Siekaniec, assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and; Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Mexican and Canadian committee members are Mariana Bellot Rojas, director general, Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas, Mexico; and Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer, Parks Canada Agency.