Students on a Swamp Walk

Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy serves as an interdisciplinary focal point for education, research, and service activities related to global, regional, and local biodiversity issues.

The Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy hosts international speakers and conferences, and it coordinates courses, seminars, and internships on a variety of topics, including wetland law and policy, environmental law, natural resources, and international environmental law. Our latest Annual Report (PDF) provides more details on the Institute's activities for 2021-2022.

Upcoming Events

Professor Royal Gardner, Professor Erin Okuno (University of Miami Law), and Foreman Biodiversity Fellow Katherine Pratt will present preliminary findings on the long-term management of Florida's aquatic restoration projects at the Florida Association of Mitigation Bankers Annual Conference on September 29th, 2022. As part of a multi-year research project funded by the Joy McCann Foundation, the Biodiversity Institute is working to identify current trends and recommended practices for protecting aquatic resources nationwide.

Environmental Advocacy Video
Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy Receives Award from American Bar Association

The ABA's Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources selected Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy to receive the Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy Award. On Aug. 7, 2016, Professor Gardner accepted the award on behalf of the Institute.

» Read the news release 

Key Initiatives

  • The Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition (IEMCC) is the world's largest moot court competition devoted exclusively to global environmental issues. Founded at Stetson in 1996, the competition now includes regional and national rounds in Africa, Brazil, Colombia, India, Ireland, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and the United States, with the top teams advancing to the International Finals hosted at Stetson Law each spring. In-person rounds of the 26th Annual Stetson IEMCC were held April 7-9, 2022.
  • The International Wildlife Law Conference brings together lawyers, policymakers, scientists, and students interested in wildlife protection efforts. Co-sponsored by the Institute since 2007, the 20th International Wildlife Law Conference was presented virtually on April 1-2, 2020. The next conference will be hosted by Cardiff University.
  • The Jacobs Law Clinic provides a much-needed public service of pro bono legal aid while affording Stetson’s law students opportunities to represent underserved clients with hands-on case management and the development of the advocacy skills necessary to be successful attorneys.
  • Stetson is the only law school in the world with a memorandum of cooperation with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, an international environmental treaty dedicated to conserving wetlands.
  • The Stetson Sea Turtle Initiative works to assist the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, a regional treaty with 16 member countries.
  • Each year, the Institute offers the Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series. The lectures are open to the public and provide interdisciplinary perspectives and dialogue about important environmental issues.
  • The ELI-Stetson Wetlands Workshop was an annual event coordinated with the renowned Washington-based Environmental Law Institute. The sixth annual workshop was held at Stetson Law on Nov. 8, 2018.

Amicus Briefs

[Note: The views expressed in these briefs do not represent the views of Stetson University College of Law or any other institution identified in the brief. Affiliations of counsel are provided in the briefs for identification purposes only.]

Stetson’s Biodiversity Institute Files Amici Curiae Brief Highlighting Importance of Science in Contentious Federal Water Lawsuit

In June 2022, Professor Royal Gardner (Director of Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy), Professor Erin Okuno (University of Miami Law), and a team of attorneys filed an amici curiae brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of twelve scientific societies collectively representing more than 125,000 members nationwide in the case Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The question before the Supreme Court is whether and to what extent the Clean Water Act protects wetlands. The brief explained why the consideration of science is required to achieve the Clean Water Act’s objective to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” Oral arguments are scheduled for October 3, 2022.

» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

Stetson’s Biodiversity Institute Files Amici Curiae Brief Highlighting Importance of Science

In December 2020, Professor Royal Gardner (Director of Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy), Professor Erin Okuno (Visiting Professor of Law and Assistant Director of the Biodiversity Institute), and a team of attorneys filed an amici curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The brief, filed on behalf of scientific societies, argued that the agencies failed to properly consider science when promulgating the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule.

» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

Another Amici Curiae Brief Filed on Behalf of Scientific Societies in Clean Water Act Case

Along with a small team of attorneys, Professor Royal Gardner (Director of Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy) and Erin Okuno (Assistant Director of the Biodiversity Institute) filed another amici curiae brief on behalf of nine national and international scientific societies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The brief was filed in May 2020 in support of a motion for a preliminary injunction or stay of the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR). The brief highlighted scientific data and a tool that was available to estimate the potential negative impacts of the NWPR.

U.S. Supreme Court Cites Amici Curiae Brief Filed by Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

In July 2019, Professor Royal Gardner (Director of Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy), Erin Okuno (Assistant Director of the Biodiversity Institute), and a team of attorneys filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of aquatic scientists and scientific societies in the Supreme Court of the United States. The brief explained why the consideration of science is required to achieve the Clean Water Act’s objective to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” The team of attorneys traveled to Washington, D.C. in November to observe the oral arguments, during which Justice Breyer mentioned the amici curiae brief of the scientists and scientific societies. On April 23, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Clean Water Act covers the “functional equivalent” of direct discharges of pollutants to navigable waters, and the majority opinion cited the amici curiae brief. The case is County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (No. 18-260).

 

 

SCOTUS

Stetson's Biodiversity Institute Files Amici Curiae Brief in Supreme Court of the United States

On July 19, 2019, Professor Roy Gardner, Erin Okuno, and a team of attorneys filed an amici curiae brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of four individual aquatic scientists and eight national and international scientific societies. The brief explains why the consideration of science is required to achieve the Clean Water Act's objective.

 

 

Boyd Hill

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy Files Another Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Clean Water Rule

In July 2018, a team of attorneys, including Professor Royal Gardner (Director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson Law), Erin Okuno (Foreman Biodiversity Fellow at Stetson Law), Dr. Steph Tai (Associate Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin Law School), Kathleen Gardner, and Christopher Greer (Park Jensen Bennett LLP), filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) in support of the Clean Water Rule. The team filed the brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. This is the second brief the team has filed on behalf of SWS.

 

 

Wetland

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy Files Amicus Curiae Brief on Behalf of Society of Wetland Scientists in Opposition to Suspension of Clean Water Rule

Professor Royal Gardner (Director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at Stetson Law), Erin Okuno (Foreman Biodiversity Fellow at Stetson Law), Dr. Steph Tai (Associate Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin Law School), Kathleen Gardner, and Christopher Greer (Park Jensen Bennett LLP) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in May 2018. They filed the brief on behalf of the Society of Wetland Scientists, a leading professional association of wetland and aquatic scientists around the world. The brief explains the necessity of considering the scientific basis of the Clean Water Rule, which defines the geographic coverage of the Clean Water Act.

 

 

Society of Wetland Scientists

Amici Curiae Brief Filed on Behalf of Scientists in Support of Clean Water Rule

On Jan. 20, 2017, Professor Royal Gardner (Stetson Law), Dr. Steph Tai (University of Wisconsin Law School), and Erin Okuno (Stetson Law) filed an amici curiae brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. They filed the brief on behalf of 12 wetland and water scientists, including Dr. Kirsten Work and Dr. Benjamin R. Tanner (Stetson University), in support of the Clean Water Rule, which defines the geographic coverage of the Clean Water Act.

 

 

Professor Royal Gardner

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