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Endangered Species

Celebrate Biodiversity!
May 15, 2020

Protecting species of plants and animals most at-risk requires knowledge and action.

Join the annual Endangered Species Day celebration with an event designed by you and your students. Below are several resources that will help you plan for this special day.

2018 was the 45th anniversary of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA was devised to protect plant and animal species from extinction. Species are put into two categories, "endangered" and "threatened." According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as of March 2017, there are a total of 503 animal species and 773 plant species listed as endangered and 208 animal species and 168 plant species listed as threatened.

students planting a garden 

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is important because each species no matter how small has an important role to play in the larger ecosystem. As a society we rely on these species for various aspects of our own existence. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity, at least 40 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, sustainable economic development, and adaptive responses to challenges such as climate change.

Seven Easy Steps to Take at School

Be wildlife champions for the endangered and threatened species in your state. Use these resources to help you:

This might include a wildlife refuge, park, or other natural space. Scientists tell us the best way to protect endangered species is to protect where they live. Let your students know about volunteer opportunities at local nature centers, parks, and wildlife refuges.

Place decals on windows to reduce the number of bird collisions. Use native plant species - they will attract and sustain native animal species. For more tips, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife website.

Creating an outdoor learning environment allows a firsthand look at local plant and animal species. Schoolyard Habitats® also provide food, water, cover, and a place for species to raise their offspring.

Most schools now utilize an Integrated Pest Management System or IPM. Check with your facilities department on how the school grounds are treated. This also might be the opportunity for students to research and request an all-natural solution to toxics on the school grounds. For more information, check out Beyond Pesticides.

  • Buy recycled paper, sustainable products like bamboo, and Forest Stewardship Council wood products to protect forest species.
  • Remember to copy double-sided, or better yet, use technology!
  • Never buy products using wood from rainforests.
  • Recycle cell phones, because a mineral used in cell phones and other electronics is mined in gorilla habitat.
  • Think twice about your lunch—minimize your use of palm oil because forests where orangutans and tigers live are being cut down to plant oil palm.

Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. One of the biggest obstacles to wildlife living in developed areas is roads. Roads divide habitat and present a constant hazard to any animal attempting to cross from one side to the other.