Administration releases “30 by 30” conservation plan

By Laura Bies

A new report provides principles and a framework for conservation in the U.S. over the next 10 years.
Credit: Barbara Hayton/USFWS

The U.S. federal administration released its “America the Beautiful” report, a broad conservation framework aimed at moving the country toward the goal of conserving at least 30% of all lands and waters by 2030.

The new plan, released May 6, emphasizes voluntary conservation efforts and partnerships with states, private landowners and tribal nations.

“We applaud this ambitious goal and the attention it brings to the power of nature-based climate solutions,” the Society of American Foresters, Association of Consulting Foresters, Society for Range Management and The Wildlife Society wrote in the preface to the report. “Natural resource professionals are key allies in tackling climate change and improving the overall health and resilience of ecosystems across public and private lands,” These organizations previously sent a letter highlighting the role natural resource professionals can play in pursing the “30 by 30” initiative.

The report includes eight principles that will guide the administration in its conservation efforts:

  • Pursue a collaborative and inclusive approach to conservation
  • Conserve America’s lands and waters for the benefit of all people
  • Support Locally Led and Locally Designed Conservation Efforts
  • Honor tribal sovereignty and support the priorities of tribal nations
  • Pursue conservation and restoration approaches that create jobs and support healthy communities
  • Honor private property rights and support the voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners and fishers
  • Use science as a guide
  • Build on existing tools and strategies with an emphasis on flexibility and being adaptive

While the goal is to protect “30 by 30,” the plan acknowledges the difficulty of measuring conservation in such stark terms. “President Biden’s conservation vision is about doing better for people, for fish and wildlife, and for the planet,” the report says. “There is no single metric —including a percentage target — that could fully measure progress toward the fulfillment of those interrelated goals. Similarly, there is no single database that could capture the texture and nuance of the economic and social values of every restoration or conservation action.”

The report calls for the creation of a new American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas to record information on the amount and types of lands and waters that are being managed for conservation. That database will be developed by a group of federal agencies led by the U.S. Geological Survey, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While USGS currently maintains a Protected Areas Database of the United States, or PAD-US, not all lands with conservation values are included in that database.

In January, President Biden called for the conservation of 30% of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030, as just one part of a wide-ranging executive order developed to address climate change.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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