Washington, DC (June 17, 2008)- The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008 report released by the Heinz Center provides authoritative documentation of key environmental trends. A companion report calls for bold federal and state action to strengthen and integrate the nation’s environmental monitoring.
The State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008 shows that the acreage burned every year by wildfires is increasing, non-native fish have invaded nearly every watershed in the lower 48 states, and chemical contaminants are found in virtually all streams and most groundwater wells, often at levels above those set to protect human health or wildlife. In contrast, ecosystems are increasing their storage of carbon, there are improvements in soil quality and crop yields have grown significantly, according to Robin O’Malley, Director of the Heinz Center’s Environmental Reporting program.
These and other trends are highlighted in this second edition of the report, first released in 2002. The trends described in this report have the potential to affect agriculture, forestry, recreation, and everyday life for millions of Americans. Produced with input from hundreds of experts from business, government, academia, and environmental organizations, and funding from government, foundations and the private sector, the report is scientifically grounded, unbiased, and drawn largely from federal agency data programs.
A companion policy report, Environmental Information: Roadmap to the Future, notes critical gaps in environmental information and highlights the management challenges. Key recommendations in the Roadmap report urge Congress to establish a national environmental indicator initiative, guided by the federal government, states, the private sector, environmental organizations, universities, and others. This effort would link national indicators with information used by local, state, corporate, and other decision makers, and drive an agenda for improving data collection and reporting.
The Roadmap suggests that the executive branch build on the work of the Heinz Center and others to maintain momentum while Congress moves forward, establish internal processes to improve federal data coordination, and expand dialogue among the many users and providers of needed environmental information. The companion report also suggests that Congress and the executive branch provide additional support for monitoring and related activities and that states demonstrate a heightened commitment to providing the information needed by state, local, and other decision makers to improve the state of the nation’s ecosystems.
State of the Nation’s Ecosystems 2008 Report