Students on a Swamp Walk

Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

Video: Environmental Advocacy at Stetson Law

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 2019-2020.

Video: Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

 

Upcoming Events

The Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series will return this fall.

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

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy 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 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, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and the United States, with the top teams advancing to the International Finals hosted at Stetson Law each spring. The virtual rounds of the 25th Annual Stetson IEMCC were held March 25–27, 2021.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 were available to estimate the potential negative impacts of the NWPR.
» Read More
» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

SCOTUS

U.S. Supreme Court Cites Amici Curiae Brief Filed by Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy
Last July, 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).
» Read More
» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

» Read the Supreme Court Opinion

Boyd Hill 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.
» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

Wetland 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.
» Read the Amicus Curiae Brief

Society of Wetland Scientists 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.
» Read More
» Read the Amicus Curiae Brief

Professor Royal Gardner 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.
» Read the Amici Curiae Brief

Recent News

2021 IEMCCStetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition Celebrates 25th Year
On March 25–27, 2021, Stetson Law hosted (virtually) the International Finals of the Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition (IEMCC). Eighteen teams from eleven jurisdictions competed, and the Law Society of Ireland was the competition champion. Attorneys and professors from around the world judged the written memorials and oral arguments.
» Read More
» Photos from Virtual Rounds

Dr. Rodrigo Medellin“Bat Man of Mexico” Presents Virtual Lecture at Stetson Law
Dr. Rodrigo Medellín, Senior Researcher at the UNAM Institute of Ecology and co-chair of IUCN’s Bat Specialist Group, delivered the final Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture of the spring semester on March 25, 2021. Dr. Medellín presented “Bats and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Myths, Realities, and Hope in Pandemic Times.” The lecture was held in conjunction with the 25th Annual Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition.
» Read More
» Watch Lecture

Ann PaulRetired Audubon Biologist Speaks to Stetson Law as Part of Biodiversity Lecture Series
On February 25, 2021, Ann Paul (retired Audubon biologist) presented “History and Projects of Audubon Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries.” She discussed the past and current conservation efforts of Audubon Florida’s Coastal Islands Sanctuaries. The lecture was part of the Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series.
» Watch Lecture

Eve SamplesFriends of the Everglades Executive Director Delivers Foreman Biodiversity Lecture
On February 4, 2021, Eve Samples, Executive Director of Friends of the Everglades, presented “From ‘River of Grass’ to Toxic Estuaries: How the Legacy of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Can Inform Today’s Fight for Clean Water.” Eve discussed the challenges facing the Greater Everglades ecosystem and the work that Friends of the Everglades and other environmental advocates are doing to save the Everglades.
» Read More
» Watch Lecture

Professor GardnerProfessor Royal Gardner Receives Award from Society of Wetland Scientists
The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) presented a 40th Anniversary Award to Professor Royal Gardner (Director of Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy) during a virtual awards ceremony in December 2020. The award recognized Professor Gardner for his legal contributions, such as filing amici curiae briefs on behalf of SWS and other scientific organizations, as well as his active participation in SWS.
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Nicholas LewisStetson Law Student Receives Environmental Education Award
Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) selected Stetson Law student Nicholas Lewis as the recipient of the 2020 Environmental Education Program Award. Nicholas received the award for a project he worked on in Professor Lance Long’s Environmental Advocacy course. Nicholas developed K–12 lesson plans for KTBB’s Environmental Education Center.
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Environmental Tax CompetitionStetson Law Students Compete in Inaugural Environmental Tax Policy Writing Competition
Thanks to support from Richard O. “Dick” Jacobs, Stetson Law launched the Stetson Environmental Tax Policy Writing Competition in spring 2020. The winners of the inaugural competition were Daniel F. Town (first place) and Daniel Raymer (second place). Daniel F. Town wrote “From Futile to Utile: Addressing the key role of Florida’s Electric Utility Companies in mitigating Sea-Level Rise,” and Daniel Raymer wrote “Plastic Tax: An Alternative to Plastic Alternatives.” The students were recognized during a virtual awards ceremony in July 2020.
» Read More

For more articles, visit our News page. 

Service Opportunities

  • Service opportunities are available for students at a local, national, and international level. Recent projects include researching sea turtle protection legislation in Latin America and the Caribbean, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on endangered species issues in California, designating Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge as a Ramsar Site, and conducting beach clean-ups.

Courses and Scholarship

  • Stetson Law offers a wide range of environmental- and biodiversity-related courses, and Stetson offers a Certificate of Concentration in Environmental Law for select J.D. students who wish to focus their studies on environmental law.
  • Our faculty members teach courses such as Environmental Advocacy, International Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, and Wetland Law and Policy. Scholarship produced by Stetson faculty has real-world impacts on topics such as animal law, land use, and wetland mitigation.
  • Stetson students have the opportunity to serve as student editors of the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy .