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How are the world’s national parks holding up against the mounting threats of climate change, invasive species, pollution and habitat fragmentation?

By Amy Nelson

Article Index

One can’t help but think of vacation around this time of year. Many of us are eager to escape the concrete and commotion of our urban and suburban lives, and retreat to the protected, natural settings of national parks. But just how protected are the world’s national parks when it comes to ecological integrity, and how are they holding up against threats like climate change, invasive species, pollution and habitat fragmentation?

We’ll begin examining this question by speaking with three experts. Dr. Stephen Woodley, link to LL Talks with Stephen Woodley Chief Ecosystem Scientist for Parks Canada, tells us how his agency combines science, education, traditional knowledge, and the creation of memorable experiences to improve the ecological integrity of Canada’s protected lands. We’ll travel to the Eastern Hemisphere for a chat with Dr. Andrew Burbidge (link to LL Talks with Andrew Burbidge), a conservation biologist who has devoted most of his 45-year career to the protection and conservation of biodiversity in Australia. Currently an advisor to the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments on issues related to national park lands, Andrew shares a unique perspective on what it’s like to protect ecological integrity on the world’s largest island. Dr. Bert Frost, (link to LL Talks with Bert Frost) Associate Director of Natural Resource Stewardship and Science for the National Park Service (NPS), shares some encouraging success stories and interesting information about how the NPS is responding to climate change.

As the reintroduction of wolves in YellowstoneNational Park illustrates, trophic cascades resulting from the loss of keystone predators is a hot topic when it comes to national parks. Invasive Species Specialist, Kevin Heatley gives us a closer look at this phenomenon in his review of Trophic Cascades: Predators, Prey, and the Changing Dynamics of Nature, book edited by John Terborgh and James A. Estes.

You’ll definitely want to visit our National Parks Photo Gallery, link to Photo Gallery, featuring photographs submitted by Leaf Litter readers and Biohabitats employees.

We’ll also share resources link to resources on national parks and information about some exciting work we’re doing in national parks, including some positive Gulf news.

What do you think about all of this? Share your thoughts on our blog, Rhizome, or make a comment on the Biohabitats Facebook page. Link to FB page If you want to reference a specific article, be sure to include it in your post.

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