Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;   president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org


February 2015 Conservation Notes


The Rights of Nature and Amendment 1 by Lamont Ingalls

In his December 2014 “Prez Sez” column Don Picard commented on the long-term efforts of the Ecuadorian government to protect the natural heritage of the Galapagos Islands.  These efforts began in 1937 when the Ecuadorians set aside 97% of the islands as a national park.  Actions to protect and preserve the Galapagos followed on from the 1930s and have recently included implementation of conservation and access controls required to respond the UNCESO declaration in 2007 that this natural reserve was a “Reserve in Danger.”  In his first-hand report, Don noted that the government of Ecuador has done first-rate work in protecting the eco-systems of the Galapagos, and that this work could serve as a model of the application of the “political will” necessary to an active protection of our precious and unique eco-systems.


As a corollary to the decades-long efforts to protect this specific environmental heritage of Ecuador, in 2008 the Ecuadorian people adopted a new Constitution that ensured that what has become known as “the rights of Nature” has legal standing.  The rights of Nature are those that inhere from an ecological and systems perspective that recognizes that human beings are embedded within the cycles and systems of nature.  This recognition of “embeddedness” or interdependence is interpreted as both a practical and a sacred responsibility.  Article 71 of the Ecuadorian Constitution is a direct statement of the rights of Nature and the responsibilities of humans to recognize and support these rights by government incentives to “protect [and respect] nature”.

Article 71. Nature, or Pacha Mama, where life is reproduced and occurs, has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.
All persons, communities, peoples and nations can call upon public authorities to enforce the rights of nature. To enforce and interpret these rights, the principles set forth in the Constitution shall be observed, as appropriate.
The State shall give incentives to natural persons and legal entities and to communities to protect nature and to promote respect for all the elements comprising an ecosystem.

In this same year (2008) in which Ecuador ratified a new constitution that set forth the “rights of Nature”, the Kingdom of Bhutan adopted a new constitution that also defined and supported the right of Nature to have legal standing and constitutional protections.   The first three sections of “Article 5, Environment”  of the Bhutanese Constitution state the relationship of the Bhutanese people and government to the “natural resources and environment”.

1. Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption and support of environment friendly practices and policies.
2. The Royal Government shall: (a) Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country; (b) Prevent pollution and ecological degradation; (c) Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and (d) Ensure a safe and healthy environment.
3. The Government shall ensure that, in order to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan’s total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time. 

This third section of Article 5 is a Bhutanese national mandate to set aside a defined percentage [60%] of all of its lands as land that is maintained as forested land, in perpetuity.  In a sense, this mandate to support  the “rights” of Florida’s lands and waters to be preserved, protected and restored have been recognized by the voters of Florida when they voted for Amendment One.  Let us ensure that this newly chartered Amendment to the Florida Constitution is a living mandate that directs and supports the statewide efforts required to ensure that these “rights of Nature” are protected, in perpetuity, in the State of Florida.

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Rally for Amendment One

The following note is from Aliki Moncrief the Director of Florida's Water and Land Legacy, the principal group that developed the language for Amendment One and managed the petition drive:

Please join us Wed, Feb 18 at 11:30am for a rally at the Capitol, sponsored by the Amendment 1 Campaign and the Clean Water Declaration Campaign. We've got a great line-up of speakers and a packed schedule.
[Note:  Use http://floridawaterlandlegacy.org/sections/page/rallybuses if the link doesn’t work.]
If you live in the Tallahassee area or plan on transporting yourself, please be sure to let us know you're coming so that we can provide you with materials in preparation for the event. Please RSVP today!
[Note:  Use https://act.myngp.com/Forms/842878376360281856?midqs=1270015094918479872 if the link doesn’t work.]

This is our chance to come together as a united voice and urge lawmakers to spend Amendment 1 funds to protect our rivers, lakes, springs and natural areas for future generations as was intended by 75% of Florida voters. Please don't miss out on this opportunity!

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Florida Audubon has focused research, educational and lobbying efforts on ensuring that the Florida legislature follows the voters’ guidance for Amendment One funding.  This is an opportunity to let the Florida Legislature know that voters are concerned that Amendment One is implemented to directly protect, preserve and enhance Florida’s conservation lands and waters.


Lamont Ingalls, Conservation Chair