Two female walkers in front of map of United States with 30x30 logo in front

30×30: Executive Order to protect United States land and oceans

President Biden has laid out a ten-year goal of conserving 30% of the U.S. by 2030, an inclusive and bold vision for safeguarding America’s lands, water, and wildlife that will support the efforts of people across the country, including rural communities, Tribal Nations, private landowners, and many others on the frontlines of conserving, stewarding, restoring, using, and enjoying nature.

  • 30×30 is an ambitious and visionary goal that will help slow the loss of nature, ameliorate the impacts of climate change, and ensure all Americans — no matter their economic status, race, or ethnicity — have access to the natural world. 
  • By marshaling federal resources and relying on local experts, from tribal councils to city halls to state leaders and from farmers, ranchers, and fishers to conservationists, recreationists, hunters, anglers, and all other Americans who use and love our public lands, 30×30 can meet the scale of the challenges facing nature.
  • Collaboration, a willingness to listen and understand different perspectives, and good-faith conversations between all Americans will be required to achieve 30×30 and solve our nature and climate crises.

Important Details:

President Biden’s commitment to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and ocean by 2030 is an ambitious and necessary goal. According to scientists, protecting 30% is the bare minimum needed to save nature and buffer against the worst impacts of climate change.

 

  • Nature is in a state of collapse. We’re facing a mass extinction of plants and animals that keep our air clean, our water pure and our food supplies plentiful.
    • Three-fourths of the planet’s lands and two-thirds of its ocean areas have been significantly altered by human activities. 
    • Almost one in three freshwater species are threatened with extinction – and in the last fifty years, populations of monitored freshwater species have declined by more than 80% on average (WWF 2020).
  • If we don’t act quickly in the U.S., the problem will only get worse. 
    • Every 30 seconds, a football field worth of America’s natural areas disappears to roads, houses, pipelines, and other development.
    • Failure to act urgently and expand land, water, and ocean protections will put over a million plants and animals at risk of extinction, many within decades. Already, nearly 3 billion birds have disappeared in the U.S. and Canada since 1970 because of human activities. Nearly every corner of the ocean has been touched by human impact or extraction, with over 2⁄3 of the ocean significantly altered by human activity. On our current trajectory, we risk losing so much more.
  • The nature crisis and the climate crisis are two sides of the same coin.
    • We cannot stabilize the climate without increasing protections for nature. One of the most cost-effective strategies for mitigating climate change is to protect more land and water.
    • Just like climate change, the loss of nature is an existential threat for communities and economies. Nature is the source of fresh drinking water and clean air, while wildlife pollinates crops that feed every American. Wetlands, barrier islands, and forests protect communities from extreme weather, like mega-storms, heatwaves, and drought. A healthy ocean stabilizes the climate, stores carbon, and provides the oxygen we all breathe.

 

By conserving and protecting 30% of U.S. lands and ocean by 2030, President Biden has a unique opportunity to work towards a more inclusive and equitable vision for nature conservation that better reflects the nation’s values.

  • For too long, the costs and impacts of nature loss have fallen disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color in the U.S. The pursuit of a 30×30 goal must address this legacy, and yield a more equitable distribution of nature’s benefits to all people.
    • 74 percent of communities of color and 70 percent of low-income communities in the contiguous United States live in nature-deprived areas. Because of the inequitable distribution of greenspace in the U.S., these communities are denied nature’s benefits and suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.  
    • Access to parks and open space can mitigate the effects of climate change and provide physical and mental health benefits. We must focus on improving access to outdoor spaces close-to-home and restoring degraded lands, coastlines and waters that have harmed the health and quality of life of communities across the country.
  • Any effort to accelerate the pace of conservation must respect tribal sovereignty and help tribal communities fulfill their visions and priorities for the stewardship of natural, cultural, and historic resources.
    • American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities have been effective protectors of biodiversity since time immemorial. As stewards of many important and well-conserved lands and waters in the U.S., tribal nations are key to the success of the 30×30 effort. 
    • Globally, lands and waters overseen by Indigenous Peoples contain over 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity. 
    • 30×30 is a vital opportunity to affirm tribal sovereignty and self-determination, safeguard culturally important ecosystems, and strengthen government-to-government consultation.

 

The path to conserving 30% must support the role of private landowners and rural communities, deploying tools and resources to aid private conservation efforts, which have long been a bulwark against the decline of nature.

  • The loss of nature is particularly acute on private lands. 
    • Urban sprawl, oil and gas extraction, and other industrial uses are consuming the nation’s farms, ranches, and private working forests. In the United States, 75 percent of all natural areas lost to development between 2001 and 2017 were on private lands. 
    • While 60 percent of the land in the U.S. is privately owned, only 3 percent of conserved areas are on privately owned land. 
  • Farmers, anglers, ranchers, and private landowners are some of America’s most effective conservationists. 
    • We need to support private landowners committed to protecting their property by providing the tools, financial resources, and incentives for landowners and the private sector to restore degraded natural areas and manage their resources sustainably. 
    • Locally-led conservation efforts can provide a sustainable economic base for rural communities while preserving important traditions and safeguarding nature. 

 

By placing at least 30% of our ocean in marine protected areas, President Biden can help ensure our communities thrive, our ocean wildlife and habitats are protected, and our ocean has a chance to adapt to climate change.   

  • Marine protected areas (MPAs) are proven tools that take the pressures off of our ocean, and give it a chance to heal. When well-protected MPAs are put in place, fish and their habitats bounce back, our ocean is more resilient in the face of future changes, and people benefit.
  • The U.S. must protect at least 30% of our ocean by 2030. And we must do it in the right way:
    • With a network of marine protected areas that reflect the diversity of wildlife, ecosystems and habitats in the U.S.
    • With a network of marine protected areas that help address the impacts of climate change by protecting carbon storage areas and areas that provide adaptation and resilience benefits.
    • With a network of marine protected areas that help protect the coastal jobs, livelihoods, cultures, recreation access, and natural resources that our communities rely on.

 

By setting a national goal of conserving 30×30 — a commitment that is widely supported by Americans — President Biden is re-establishing the U.S. as a leader in conserving nature and restoring pride in America’s outdoor spaces.

  • By establishing a 30×30 goal, President Biden is overseeing a much-need course correction after four years of failed leadership by President Trump, who rolled back common-sense safeguards protecting the environment and undermined conserved areas across the nation.
  • For more than a century, the United States has risen to meet major environmental challenges facing our nation. Today is a critical first step to meet the 30×30 goal and take on the global nature crisis.
    • The United States still has some of the healthiest and most natural lands, waters, and ocean areas in the world. Approximately 60 percent of lands in the continental United States are in a mostly natural condition or could be restored to one.
    • Today, about 12 percent of U.S. lands and 23 percent of oceans are protected. We have NO CHOICE but to rapidly scale up the pace of conservation if we’re going to safeguard nature and support our economies dependent on functional natural systems.
  • Just last year, Congress passed a law providing permanent, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – America’s most important conservation and recreation program. LWCF, a program with broad bipartisan support, will provide critical conservation funding to every state and county across the country, giving communities a diverse array of tools to meet 30×30 goals.  
  • Overwhelming majorities of American voters support a 30×30 goal.

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