Earth Island Institute
Earth Island Institute
The Earth Island Institute (EII) was founded by David Brower in 1982 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing innovative projects for the conservation , preservation, and restoration of the global environment . In its earliest years, the Institute worked primarily with a volunteer staff and concentrated on projects like the first Conference on the Fate of the Earth, publication of Earth Island Journal, and the production of films about the plight of indigenous peoples . In 1985 and again in 1987, EII expanded its facilities and scope, opening office space and providing support for a number of allied groups and projects. Its membership now numbers approximately 35,000.
EII conducts research on, and develops critical analyses of, a number of contemporary issues. With sponsored projects ranging from saving sea turtles to encouraging land restoration in Central America, EII does not restrict its scope to traditionally "environmental" goals but rather pursues what it sees as ecologically-related concerns such as human rights, economic development of the Third World , economic conversion from military to peaceful production, and inner city poverty, among others. But much of its mission is to be an environmental educator and facilitator. In that role EII sponsors or participates in numerous programs designed to provide information, exchange viewpoints and strategies, and coordinate efforts of various groups. EII even produces music videos as part of its environmental education efforts.
EII is perhaps best known for its efforts to halt the use of drift nets by tuna boats, a practice which is often fatal to large numbers of dolphins . After an EII biologist signed on as a crew member aboard a Latin American tuna boat and managed to document the slaughter of dolphins in drift nets, EII brought a lawsuit to compel more rigorous enforcement of existing laws banning tuna caught on boats using such nets. EII also joined with other environmental groups in urging a consumer boycott of canned tuna. These efforts were successful in persuading the three largest tuna canners to pledge not to purchase tuna caught in drift nets. The monitoring of tuna fishing practices is an ongoing EII project.
EII also sponsors a wide variety of other projects. Its Energy Program promotes energy efficient technology. Its Friends of the Ancient Forest program aims at the protection of old-growth forests on the Pacific Coast. Baikal Watch works for the permanent protection of biologically unique Lake Baikal , Russia. The Climate Protection Institute publishes the Greenhouse Gas-ette and develops public education material about changes in global climate. EII participates in the International Green Circle, an ecological restoration program which matches volunteers with ongoing projects worldwide. EII's Sea Turtle Restoration Project investigates threats to the world's endangered sea turtles, organizes and educates United States citizens to protect the turtles, and works with Central American sea turtle restoration projects. The Rain Forest Health Alliance develops educational materials and programs about the biological diversity of tropical rain forests. The Urban Habitat Program develops multicultural environmental leadership and organizes efforts to restore urban neighborhoods.
EII administers a number of funds designed to support creative approaches to environmental conservation, preservation, and restoration to support activists exploring the use of citizen suit provisions of various statutes to enforce environmental laws and to help develop a Green political movement in the United States. EII also sponsors several international conferences, exchange programs, and publication projects in support of various environmental causes.
[Lawrence J. Biskowski ]