Center for Biological Diversity

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit membership organization known for its work protecting endangered species through legal action, scientific petitions, creative media and grassroots activism. It was founded in 1989 by Kieran Suckling, Peter Galvin, Todd Schulke and Robin Silver.[1] The Center is based in Tucson, Arizona, with its headquarters in the historic Owls club (Tucson, Arizona) building,[2] and has offices and staff in New Mexico, Nevada, California, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, Florida and Washington, D.C. It has approximately 1.1 million members and online activists.

Center for Biological Diversity
TypeNon-governmental organization
PurposeProtection of endangered species
HeadquartersTucson, Arizona


Given a small grant by the Fund for Wild Nature, the organization started in 1989 as a small group by the name of Greater Gila Biodiversity Project, with the objective to protect endangered species and critical habitat in the Southwestern United States. The organization grew and became the Center for Biological Diversity.

Kieran Suckling, Peter Galvin, and Todd Schulke founded the organization in response to what they perceived as a failure on the part of the United States Forest Service to protect imperiled species from logging, grazing, and mining. As surveyors in New Mexico, the three men discovered "a rare Mexican spotted owl nest in an old-growth tree",[1] but their discovery was overshadowed by Forest Service plans to lease the land to timber companies; Suckling, Galvin, and Schulke believed that it was within the Forest Service’s mission to save sensitive species like the Mexican spotted owl from harm, and that the government had not performed its duty in deference to corporate interests. Suckling, Galvin and Schulke went to the media to register their outrage with success: the old-growth tree was allowed to stand, and this success led to the founding of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Today the Center's mission encompasses far-reaching problems such as global threats to biological diversity and climate change. One of the Center's biggest recent victories was in 2011, when it reached a historic legal settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service compelling the agency to make progress on protecting 757 imperiled but previously neglected animals and plants. The Center employs a group of paid and pro bono attorneys to use litigation to effect change, and claims a 93 percent success rate for their lawsuits.[1]


On 13 June 2007, the Center spoke out against a George W. Bush administration proposal to reduce the protected area for the spotted owl in the United States Pacific Northwest. According to Noah Greenwald, the group's representative in the Northwest, the proposed habitat cut is "typical of an administration that is looking to reduce protections for endangered species at every turn." Greenwald said that the rollback is part of a series of "sweetheart deals," in which the administration settles an environmental lawsuit out of court and, "at the industry's wishes, reduces the critical habitat." According to the Center, the move conforms to a broad trend that includes at least 25 earlier Bush administration decisions on habitat protections for endangered species. In those cases, the protected areas were reduced an average of 36 percent.[3]

On 16 December 2008, the Center announced intent to sue the United States government for introducing "regulations ... that would eviscerate our nation’s most successful wildlife law by exempting thousands of federal activities, including those that generate greenhouse gases, from review under the Endangered Species Act." The lawsuit, which is critical of U.S. Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and President George W. Bush, was filed in the Northern District of California by the Center, Greenpeace and Defenders of Wildlife. According to the Center, "The lawsuit argues that the regulations violate the Endangered Species Act and did not go through the required public review process. The regulations, first proposed on August 11, were rushed by the Bush administration through an abbreviated process in which more than 300,000 comments from the public were reviewed in 2-3 weeks, and environmental impacts were analyzed in a short and cursory environmental assessment, rather than a fuller environmental impact statement."[4]

Rubber Dodo award for anti-environmental record

Almost every year since 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity has given an award "to those who have done the most to destroy wild places, species and biological diversity".[5]

2007Dirk KempthorneU.S. Interior Secretary
2008Sarah PalinAlaska Governor
2009Michael Winerland speculator
2010Tony Haywardformer BP CEO
2011U.S. Chamber of Commerce
2012James InhofeOklahoma Senator
2013Brothers Charles Koch and David KochKoch Industries leaders
2014U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services
2017Rob Bishop[7]Utah Congressman and Chairman of United States House Committee on Natural Resources
2018 Donald Trump[8] President of the United States

See also


  1. Our Story Center for Biological Diversity - May 10, 2008]
  2. Davis, Tony (April 13, 2014). "Owl-saving group buys historic Owls Club mansion". Arizona Daily Star. Tucson, Arizona.
  3. Bush administration wants cut in protection for spotted owl: Proposal would trim preserved habitat
  4. Bush Administration Regulations Gutting Protections for Nation's Endangered Species Published Today - Conservation Groups' Challenge to 11th Hour Reductions in Protections for Nation’s Wildlife Moves ForwarD
  5. staff (6 November 2015). "Monsanto wins the Rubber Dodo award for anti-environmental record". The Wisconsin Gazette. WiG Publishing. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  6. "Pesticide Peddler Monsanto Wins 2015 Rubber Dodo Award" (Press release). Center for Biological Diversity. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  7. "Utah Congressman Rob Bishop Wins Rubber Dodo Award" (Press release). Center for Biological Diversity. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  8. "Trump Wins 2018 Rubber Dodo Award as Top Eco-villain". Retrieved 2019-06-24.
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