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On Thu. Nov. 19, the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series with U.S. Senator Tom Udall as honorary co-host presented our third webinar “Indigenous Kinship and Multispecies Justice.” You will find the video of the webinar on Species in Peril YouTube channel and on the WEBINAR VIDEOS page in the Species in Peril website.

YouTube Link:

We thank the three distinguished Indigenous panelists: Norma Kassi from Yukon, Canada, Goldman Prize-winning conservationist and long-time defender of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; Professor Robin Wall Kimmerer, scientist and celebrated author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants and Director of the Native Peoples and the Environment at SUNY-Syracuse; and President Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Nation and President of the National Congress of American Indians; and moderator Elspeth Iralu, Visiting Assistant Professor of Indigenous Planning at the University of New Mexico—for an expansive, informative, and inspiring conversation, and for the generosity with which the panelists shared their knowledge, experiences and passion of conserving the living Earth of which we are a part.

We thank Senator Tom Udall and Congresswoman Deb Haaland for their welcome messages, and for their leadership on advancing the “30x30 Resolution to Save Nature”—a bold proposal to protect 30% of land and 30% of ocean in the United States by 2030—to help mitigate the intensifying biodiversity and the climate crises. President-elect Joe Biden has “pledged to sign an executive order on his first day to support” the 30x30 resolution as part of his “$2 trillion program to slow global warming,” the Associated Press reported on November 13.

We thank the nearly 300 attendees who joined us live. We sincerely apologize for the technical difficulty of showing some of the videos during the live session but happy to report that we were able to fix all of the problems as can be seen in the YouTube video. We thank artist Dylan McLaughlin, MFA candidate in Art & Ecology at UNM for fixing the technical glitches in the recorded file and preparing a clean video that we uploaded to YouTube.

The UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series launched on September 14 with a conversation “Building A National Biodiversity Action Plan” I moderated with Sen. Udall, Rep. Haaland, and marine conservationist Dr. Enric Sala. But a national biodiversity conservation initiative will also need significant efforts at the state level and cooperation among states and with federal initiatives. To spark a conservation on this very important topic, we will host our next and concluding webinar on Thu. Dec. 3, titled, “Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S.” The inaugural and the concluding webinars serve as bookends of the series to foster conversations on public policy at all levels—local, state, national and international—to mitigate the intensifying biodiversity crisis. 

The webinar is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. Registration Link:

Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S. will feature three distinguished panelists who have worked on and thought about state-level biodiversity conservation for a long time: Professor Adrian Treves, founder of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Louisa Willcox, co-founder of Grizzly Times and a passionate advocate of protecting grizzlies, wolves and other large carnivores; and Dr. Fred Koontz, field biologist and conservationist who retired after a 35-year wildlife conservation career working in zoo, field and university settings at the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Trust (now “EcoHealth Alliance”), Columbia University, and the Woodland Park Zoo. The webinar will be moderated by wildlife conservationist Kevin Bixby, founder and executive director of Southwest Environmental Center. Kevin was the lead organizer of the first national conference on the topic of Reenvisioning State Wildlife Governance, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2018.

Transforming State Wildlife Management to Protect Biodiversity in the U.S. will be co-presented by Southwest Environmental Center and the Species in Peril project at UNM.

Yesterday, the number of daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. reached nearly 200,000, and nearly 2,000 people died in one day. Our hearts go out to all those who are affected by the pandemic. 

The pandemic relates to our biodiversity webinar series in significant ways. We launched the series by posing this simple question: Did you know that the root causes of the no-end-in-sight coronavirus pandemic are situated in the intensifying biodiversity crisis, specifically the rapid loss of wildlife habitats and the trade of wildlife?

To foster conversations on that and many other related questions we organized the biodiversity webinar series. Senator Udall and I addressed some of those entangled themes—the biodiversity, climate and the coronavirus crises—in our recent op-ed “We Must Mobilize to Avert a Lonely Earth” in the Scientific American. 

As I think about Senator Udall’s nearly a quarter-century of legislative efforts—first as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and then as a U.S. Senator from which he is soon retiring—I consider his career—his advocacy for land, water and species conservation, and his strong support for environmental justice and Indigenous rights—an exemplary case of “long environmentalism.” In case you are curious about what that term means, you can read an essay I wrote, “Long Environmentalism: After the Listening Session,” which was published three years ago in the book Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies: Conversations from earth to Cosmos (Routledge, 2017). Even though Senator Udall is retiring from his Senate role, he has made clear that his efforts in conservation (or “long environmentalism” as I like to say) is ongoing and will continue. I’m grateful to Senator Udall for serving with me as co-host of the UNM Biodiversity Series.

I close with this line from our Scientific American op-ed: “The U.S. needs to repair the environmental damage that the Trump administration has wrought, both within the country and across the world.”

I look forward to seeing you at our concluding webinar on Thu. Dec. 3.

Be safe, be well!

Subhankar Banerjee

Director and Founder, Species in Peril project at UNM

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