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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 2018-2019.

Video: Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy

Upcoming Events:

Join us for the Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series this fall:

  • Thursday, September 12, 2019, at noon in the Great Hall: Jason Lauritsen, Executive Director, Florida Wildlife Corridor
  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at noon in the Great Hall: Elizabeth Silleck, Senior Conservation Manager, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Tuesday, November 5, 2019, at noon in the Great Hall: Dr. Jason Evans, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies, Stetson University

The lectures are open to the public. To attend a lecture, RSVP to biodiversity@law.stetson.edu.

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

Stetson's Institute for Biodiversity Law and PolicyThe 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

Stetson Law Awarded Grant by the Sea Turtle Grants Program for a Special Course on Sea Turtle Law and Policy

sea turtle

Thanks to a generous grant by the Sea Turtle Grants Program administered by the Sea Turtle Conservancy, Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy offered a one-credit, three-day course, “Topics in Biodiversity Law: Sea Turtles,” on Aug. 26–28, 2016. This special course educated law and other graduate students about threats to sea turtles and the local, state, national, and international legal and policy framework to protect them. The course was open to students at Stetson University College of Law and to graduate students who are pursuing degrees in marine science, environmental science, or environmental policy.
» Read news release

Scholarships for the course were funded by the grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.

Sea Turtle License Plate

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, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Ukraine, and the United States, with the top teams advancing to the International Finals hosted at Stetson Law each spring. Stetson Law will host the International Finals of the 24th Annual Stetson IEMCC on April 2-4, 2020.
  • 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 will be hosted on April 1-2, 2020 at Stetson University College of Law's Gulfport, Florida campus. This year's conference was hosted by the University of Barcelona Faculty of Law on June 3-4, 2019.
  • 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 15 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 is an annual event held in the fall 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.]

Boyd HillStetson’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

WetlandStetson'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 ScientistsStetson'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 GardnerAmici 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

IWLC-1919th International Wildlife Law Conference Held in Barcelona, Spain
On June 3–4, 2019, the University of Barcelona Faculty of Law hosted the 19th International Wildlife Law Conference. Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy co-sponsored the event, which brought together a variety of professionals involved in wildlife conservation, including lawyers, policymakers, and scientists. Professor Royal Gardner presented on the Global Wetland Outlook at the opening plenary session, and Erin Okuno gave a presentation about extinct species and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
» Learn More

WetlandsStetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy Receives Grant from the Joy McCann Foundation
Stetson’s Biodiversity Institute received a $150,000 grant from the Joy McCann Foundation to conduct a two-year research project on “Improving Long-term Protection of Aquatic Resource Compensatory Mitigation Sites.” The main objective of the project will be to support the efforts of policymakers, regulators, conservation organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure effective long-term protection of aquatic resource compensatory mitigation sites in Florida and around the country.
» Read More

2019 IEMCC ChampionsNational Law School of India University, Bangalore Wins 23rd Annual Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition (IEMCC)
A team of students from the National Law School of India University in Bangalore won the International Finals of the 23rd Annual Stetson IEMCC. The National University of Singapore was the runner-up. Stetson Law hosted the International Finals April 11–13, 2019, on its Gulfport, Florida campus. Twenty-seven teams from around the world participated in the International Finals. The theme of the competition was “Use of the Sargasso Sea and the Protection of Eels.”
» Read More

Dr. Richard Caddell

Dr. Richard Caddell Speaks at Stetson Law about Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing
On April 11, 2019, Dr. Richard Caddell (School of Law and Politics, Cardiff University, UK) delivered the final Foreman Biodiversity Lecture of the spring semester. Dr. Caddell presented “Fish and Foul Play: Emerging Approaches to Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.” The lecture kicked off the International Finals of the 23rd Annual Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition.
» Read More
» Watch Lecture Video

Cindy Mercado and Rhyan TompkinsWildlife Inspectors with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Present Foreman Biodiversity Lecture at Stetson Law
Rhyan Tompkins and Cindy Mercado spoke at Stetson Law on March 5, 2019, as part of the Edward and Bonnie Foreman Biodiversity Lecture Series. Tompkins and Mercado are wildlife inspectors with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). They discussed how the USFWS works to combat illegal wildlife trade.
» 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.