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Document Code No: PUT 8-20 (AEO)
Department/Issuing Agency: Executive Office
Effective Date: September 5, 2008
Approved: /s/ Ron Sims
Type of Action: New

Signed document (PDF, 400 KB)

This Order directs the county to integrate biodiversity conservation principles into its operations and planning and approves participation in the Local Action for Biodiversity Project, including implementation of actions outlined in the " Durban Commitment" attached to this order.

WHEREAS, biodiversity is defined as the variety of living organisms considered at all levels from genetic diversity through species and higher taxonomic levels, including the variety of habitats, ecosystems and landscapes in which the species are found; and

WHEREAS, King County possesses a diverse array of landforms and habitats ranging from the Cascade mountains to rare and sensitive lowland bogs, from forests to farm fields; and

WHEREAS, biodiversity is our living heritage and provides us with food, clothing, shelter, clean water and air and inspiration; and

WHEREAS, in the face of climate change, the conservation of biodiversity will be of critical importance for buffering the effects of rising temperatures on regional ecosystems, dampening rates of ecological change and reducing the potential for sudden extreme changes in the environment; and

WHEREAS, King County is home to approximately two hundred twenty species of breeding and non-breeding birds, sixty-nine species of mammals, twelve species of amphibians, eight species of reptile and one thousand two hundred forty-nine species of vascular plants; and

WHEREAS, approximately fifty species of native freshwater fish are found in the freshwater streams, rivers, ponds and lakes of King County; and

WHEREAS, King County's marine environment supports over two hundred species of fish, some five hundred species of invertebrate animals, and eight species of marine mammals; and

WHEREAS, Policy E-169 in the 2004 Comprehensive Plan directs the county to maintain the existing diversity of species and habitats in King County; and

WHEREAS, King County's ecological land conservation programs have identified lands for protection on a countywide scale using criteria based on both ecological and community value; and

WHEREAS, King County owns and manages five thousand three hundred acres of ecological lands; and

WHEREAS, cooperative efforts to develop watershed-based salmon conservation plans and recurring listings of species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act have underscored the need for ecosystem-based approaches to biodiversity conservation; and

WHEREAS, King County's population is projected to grow by another one hundred eighty-eight thousand residents, which is an increase of ten percent, by 2022; and

WHEREAS, development associated with population will place increasing pressure on biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, King County's land use and development practices, open space acquisitions, habitat restoration projects, land management practices, public education and involvement programs and tax incentive programs offer opportunities for conserving biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, the Executive-proposed 2008 Comprehensive Plan Update includes policies to guide conservation of biodiversity in King County; and

WHEREAS, state and federal agencies, including the Washington State Biodiversity Council, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Forest Service are undertaking initiatives to conserve biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, in 2002, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity established the 2010 Biodiversity Target as part of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals; and

WHEREAS, local governments, with authorities to establish land use patterns, have a significant role to play in conserving biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, species ranges and functional ecosystems often cross local and international political boundaries; and

WHEREAS, local efforts to conserve biodiversity will be more effective if carried out as part of a coordinated, ecosystem-based approach; and

WHEREAS, the Local Action for Biodiversity ("LAB") Project is a three-year project initiated by the City of Cape Town and developed in conjunction with Local Governments for Sustainability or "ICLEI;" and

WHEREAS, the LAB Project brings together local governments from around the world to share strategies for urban biodiversity conservation, enhancement, utilization and management; and

WHEREAS, the LAB Project is intended to facilitate understanding, communication and support among decision-makers, citizens and other stakeholders regarding urban biodiversity issues and the need for local action; and

WHEREAS, LAB Project goals include demonstrating best practices in urban biodiversity management, providing documentation and development of biodiversity management and implementation tools, securing funding support for international agencies for biodiversity-related development projects and increasing global awareness of the importance of biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, King County is one of the twenty-one convening parties and is the first government from the United States to participate in the LAB Project; and

WHEREAS, the first milestone in the LAB Project is completing an evaluation of the state of local biodiversity and recommending local strategies for biodiversity conservation; and

WHEREAS, in April 2008, the King County Executive published the 2008 King County Biodiversity Report; and

WHEREAS, continued participation in the LAB project will provide benefits to King County in terms of learning about strategies being undertaken by local governments to conserve biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, the twenty-one initiating LAB participants have developed the Durban Commitment: Local Governments for Biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, the Durban Commitment recognizes "ecosystem services" provided by conserving biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, the Durban Commitment recognizes that continued population growth, development, and resource use will place increasing pressure on biodiversity; and

WHEREAS, the Durban Commitment outlines actions to be undertaken by participating local governments with a focus on integrating biodiversity considerations into local planning, management of natural areas, government operations, public education, and partnerships with other local governments.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ron Sims, King County Executive do hereby approve and direct King County to:

i. Actively participate in the ICLEI LAB Project;
ii. Continue to document and monitor biodiversity in King County;
iii. Develop a biodiversity conservation framework and conservation strategy for conserving native biodiversity in King County;
iv. Integrate biodiversity conservation strategies into management of natural and resource lands, capital facilities planning, operation of facilities, and environmental education programs;
v. Propose and support amendments to the King County Comprehensive Plan to integrate biodiversity conservation principles into policies for land and water resource management, climate change, and fish and wildlife habitat conservation;
vi. Implement the commitments outlined in the attached Durban Commitment: Local Governments for Biodiversity.

Dated this 5th of September 2008

Ron Sims
King County Executive

Attest: (original signed)

Carolyn Ableman
Director, Records and Licensing Services
Department of Executive Services

Attachment: The Durban Commitment: Local Governments for Biodiversity