On a global scale, entire species of plants and animals are extirpated on a daily basis. Most of these species are being lost in tropical regions where industries are converting forest into more economically valuable land uses such as ranching and monoculture farming. However, threats also exist to species in temperate forests in areas undergoing economic and social upheaval.
One such area is the boreal forest (or "taiga") of eastern Russia. The Institute has taken the lead in a multinational effort to conserve biodiversity in the boreal forests of eastern coastal Russia. The eastern coast of Russia is one of the largest remaining temperate forest ecosystems in the world. The remoteness of the region, and the protection provided during its association with Soviet Union military establishments, precluded most natural resources in this region from extensive development. With the reorganization of the former Soviet Union, and the need for capital to support a new Russian economy, the protection has been lost and plans for widespread natural resource development are underway. Scientists from the Institute, as well as from agencies and organizations in the United States, Russia, and Europe, are formulating a strategic plan to use indicator species to help identify potential biological reserves for conserving biodiversity.
The distributions of indicator species is generally widespread, and the amount of area required to support an indicator species would encompass a multitude of other species. One such potential indicator species in this region is the Steller's Sea Eagle, one of the largest birds of prey in the world. Through identification of these species and careful planning of compatible land-use practices, the Russian people can develop sustainable harvesting of their natural resources without compromising biodiversity in this region.