Kieran Suckling

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Kieran Suckling
Kieran Suckling 1647.jpg
Alma materWorcester Polytechnic Institute,
College of the Holy Cross, State University of New York, Stony Brook
OccupationEnvironmental activist
Known forCenter for Biological Diversity

Kierán Suckling (born 1964) is one of the founders and the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation group known for its innovative approaches to the protection of endangered species, wilderness, clean air and clean water.[1]

He has infused the traditionally staid environmental arena with an unusual degree of creative energy, leading New Yorker to dub the Center "the most important radical environmental group in the country" and Suckling a "trickster, philosopher, publicity hound, master strategist, and unapologetic pain in the ass."[2] The LA Weekly calls the Center "pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the most effective conservation organization in the country," and says of Suckling: "Rimbaud reinvented poetry. Kierán Suckling would do the same with environmentalism."[3]

The Center, which has secured protection for over 700 endangered species and 475,000,000 acres (192,225,680 ha) of habitat in the U.S.,[4] has an excellent reputation for its scientific, litigation and media work among those in favor of environmental protection.[5] It often comes under fire from logging, mining, pesticide, oil, coal and other industries.[5]

Suckling founded the Center for Biological Diversity while working on doctoral dissertation in 1989 along with Peter Galvin, Robin Silver and Todd Schulke.[5] He served as executive director from 1989 to 2004, policy director from 2005 to 2007, and became executive director again in 2008.[1]


Suckling's parents and siblings immigrated to the United States from Ireland and England in the 1960s. He is the only member of his immediate family born in the United States. As a child, he lived with his family in Ireland, England, Peru, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. Following the divorce of his parents, he settled in Cape Cod, graduating from Sandwich High School in 1982. He entered Salve Regina University in Rhode Island in 1982, then transferred the following year to double major in computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. He was very culturally and politically active in college, editing literary and science magazines, organizing poetry readings, founding a chapter of Student Pugwash USA, working for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group and participating in numerous political rallies and teach-ins opposing U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and advocating global nuclear disarmament.

He received a BA in Philosophy from College of the Holy Cross in 1987 and went on to study natural language processing as a fellow at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information and math at Columbia University.[5] He backpacked in national parks and wilderness areas throughout Canada, the United States and Mexico for two years, funding his travels by working as a cook in Missoula, Montana. It was during these years that he first became an environmental activist, working with Earth First! groups in Montana, New Mexico and Arizona.

In 1989 Suckling entered a PhD program in philosophy at Stony Brook University. His area of concentration was phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstruction, anthropology and religion. He taught Introduction to World Religions and Introduction to Eastern Religions to undergraduates in the Religious Studies Department. In 1990, he began work on a Doctoral Dissertation on the relationship between the extinction of species, languages and cultures.[5]

During the summers, Suckling worked as a Mexican spotted owl and northern goshawk surveyor on National Forests and Native American reservation lands in New Mexico and Arizona. He started the Center for Biological Diversity in Reserve, NM, with Earth First!, owl surveying and native lands protection friends in 1989. He moved west permanently in 1992 (to Reserve) to work full time on endangered species and public land protection. He left the Stony Brook University doctoral program in 1999, receiving an MA in philosophy.[5]

Suckling has published articles assessing trends in conservation of imperiled species, the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

He has continued to explore the deep psycho/social implications of the global homogenizing of biodiversity, language and culture, and the essential relationship between environmentalism, the arts, and the rights of indigenous peoples and poor communities.[15][16] His more recent works are an examination of the "frog prince" stories in Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales[17] and "Three catastrophies, one sky," a reflection on mass extinctions and global warming.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Our story", Center for Biological Diversity. Accessed April 2, 2015
  2. ^ Lemann, Nicholas. "No People Allowed", The New Yorker, 11-22-99.
  3. ^ Zakin, Susan. "The Gods of Small Things", LA Weekly"". 11-22-2002
  4. ^ "Endangered species", Center for Biological Diversity. Accessed April 3, 2015
  5. ^ a b c d e f Humes, David. Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers And Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet. Ecco. 2009
  6. ^ Allen, C.D., M. Savage, D.A. Falk, K.F. Suckling, T.W. Swetnam, T. Schulke, P.B. Stacey, P. Morgan, M. Hoffman, and J. Klingel. 2002. Ecological restoration of southwestern ponderosa pine ecosystems: A broad perspective. Ecological Applications 12(5):1418-1433.
  7. ^ Suckling, K.F., R. Slack, and B. Nowicki. 2004. Extinction and the Endangered Species Act. Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson, AZ.
  8. ^ Taylor, M.F.J., K.F. Suckling and J.J. Rachlinski. 2005. The Effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act: A Quantitative Analysis. BioScience 55(4):360-367.
  9. ^ Greenwald, D.N., D.C. Crocker-Bedford, L. Broberg, K.F. Suckling, and T. Tibbetts. 2005. A review of northern goshawk habitat selection in the home range and implications for forest management in the western United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 33, 120-129.
  10. ^ Greenwald D.N., K.F. Suckling and M.F.J. Taylor. 2006. Factors affecting the rate and taxonomy of species listings under the US Endangered Species Act. In Gobel, D, M.J. Scott and F.W. Davis (eds.) The Endangered Species Act at Thirty: Renewing Conservation Commitment. Washington DC: Island Press
  11. ^ Suckling, K.F. and M.F.J. Taylor. 2006. Critical habitat and recovery. In: Gobel, d., Scott, MJ, Davis, FW. (eds.) The Endangered Species Act at Thirty: Renewing the Conservation Commitment. Island Press, Washington DC. P.76.
  12. ^ Greenwald, D.N., K.F. Suckling and M.F.J. Taylor, 2006. The listing record. In: Gobel, d., Scott, MJ, Davis, FW. (eds.) The Endangered Species Act at Thirty: Renewing the Conservation Commitment. Island Press, Washington DC. P.55.
  13. ^ Suckling, K.F. 2006. Measuring the Success of the Endangered Species Act, Recovery Trends in the Northeastern United States. Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson, AZ.
  14. ^ Suckling, K.F. and W. Hodges. 2007. Status of the bald eagle in the Lower 48 states and the District of Columbia. Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson, AZ.
  15. ^ Suckling, K.F. 2000. A House on Fire: Connecting the Biological and Linguistic Diversity Crises. Animal Law 6:193-202.
  16. ^ Suckling, K.F. 2000. Biodiversity, Linguistic Diversity And Identity – toward an ecology of language in an age of extinction. Langscape 17:14-20.
  17. ^ Suckling, K.F. 2007. Frogs. In: Bernheimer, K. (ed.) Brothers and Beasts: An Anthology of Men on Fairy Tales (Wayne State University Press)
  18. ^ Suckling. K.F. 2008. Three catastrophes, one sky. Terrain, v22, Summer/Fall 2008.