Why a New York Bioscape Initiative?
For example, ground water pollution is on the rise and withdrawals are exceeding local water demands in many watersheds, and key air quality indicators of health, such as rising mercury levels, are signaling alarm. Also of concern is the suspected link between emerging diseases (e.g. West Nile virus and Lyme''s disease) and environmental degradation. Are we creating the context for these diseases? Furthermore, despite the fact that the region''s overall population growth has slowed to less than 1% annually, many municipalities located in important areas (e.g. the Highlands, Pocono Mountains, and Hudson River watershed) are growing at much higher, and environmentally damaging, rates.
To reverse unhealthy trends in the New York City metropolitan ecology, we believe that ultimately a practice of sustainable living that protects both biodiversity and human health must be adopted and embraced by area residents. We suggest that a key step toward this end is for regional conservation scientists, health professionals, resource managers, decision makers, and engaged citizens to better understand together the connections between biodiversity, health, and natural resource management. Such a “knowledge community” would apply their findings by producing synthesis documents on key issues, recommending new environmental policies, and developing best practices for managing natural resources on both public and private lands.