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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Collaborating with Canada and Mexico to Sustain North America’s Wildlife Heritage

butterfly on spiky purpleflowerIn recent years, the Trilateral Committee has made great progress in engaging citizens, facilitating on-the-ground conservation, and working to address threats to the monarch butterfly on a continental scale. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS

This year marks the 25th anniversary of joint efforts to conserve the living heritage of North America through the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, also known as the “Trilateral Committee.” This week, approximately 250 conservation leaders and other attendees from all three countries are gathering for their first virtual annual meeting, which is hosted by the United States.

The purpose of the Trilateral Committee is to promote ecological integrity of North America’s natural areas, foster an integrated regional perspective for biodiversity conservation and management, and facilitate joint cooperation to reduce and mitigate threats to species and habitats. The Trilateral Committee’s annual meeting serves to share information and strengthen collaborations among Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Participants hail from the three countries and represent federal and state government agencies, research and academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

“The work we do together is critical – not just to the future of our continent’s wildlife and natural landscapes – but to the millions of our citizens who depend on these resources for clean air, clean water, healthy food, and for their livelihoods,” says Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams.

These goals of the Trilateral Committee are more relevant today than ever. Today’s conservation challenges, including climate change, zoonotic disease, and wildlife trafficking, are beyond the capability of any single country, let alone government agency, to address. It is crucial for us to work together with our closest neighbors to conserve shared species and ecosystems and find solutions to sustain North America’s abundant and diverse wildlife heritage for future generations.

map of North AmericaTerrestrial ecosystems across North America, courtesy of The North American Land Change Monitoring System (NALCMS), available at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.  

The Trilateral Committee’s 25th anniversary provides a welcome opportunity to renew hope for the future, in part by reflecting on the important achievements made together over the past quarter century. These include using scientific integrity and the power of collaboration to achieve successful recovery efforts for numerous species including the bald eagle and gray wolf, establishing and managing important habitat throughout North America with the world’s largest network of protected lands, and engaging citizens of all three countries in on-the-ground research and conservation to address threats at a landscape and regional scale.

Over the coming days, attendees of the annual meeting will build upon 25 years of collaborations and information sharing to discuss a range of topics in the Working Tables. These center around the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ecosystem Conservation, Law Enforcement, Migratory Birds, and Species of Common Concern, as well as implementation of the Trilateral Committee (through the Executive Working Table).

These discussions will help strengthen and expand the important role of the Trilateral Committee to work together, at a continental scale, to meet today’s challenges while conserving the rich natural heritage of North America for future generations.

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