The United States is now on the same path to preserving a significant percentage of our land and oceans. President Biden recently signed executive orders pledging to conserve at least 30% of the nation’s land and coastal waters by 2030, less than a decade from now.
The “30 by 30” vision was announced a week after the president kicked off his climate agenda by rejoining the Paris Agreement to limit global warming, and launching a review of the previous administration’s rollbacks of environmental protections for air, water and land.
The Biden administration’s plan to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030. According to the Center for American Progress, only about 12% of the country’s land has been conserved as national parks, wilderness areas, permanent conservation easements, state parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments and other protected areas. The Garden State has been a national leader in land preservation for decades and has already met the 30% target.
New Jersey covers about five million acres, of which about a third are preserved, a third are either developed or planned for development, and the rest up for grabs.
With a sound base of preserved lands already secured, New Jersey can get to work on reaching the 50% advocated by E.O. Wilson and others.
By continuing to preserve lands that support wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and absorb harmful carbon emissions from the atmosphere, New Jersey will continue to lead the nation.
And by conserving 30×30, the United States will re-establish itself as a leader in conserving nature, leveraging nature to address climate change and making more outdoor spaces available to all Americans.
The path to conserving 30% nationally, and 50% in New Jersey, will require partnerships and coordination between government agencies, private landowners and community-based nonprofit organizations known as land trusts.
And it’s imperative that conservation projects embrace an inclusive and equitable vision that reflects the values of all Americans, including urban residents and communities of color.
Clean air and water, a stable climate, abundant food supplies, a diversity of plant and animal life, a strong economy and a habitable planet are essential. These bold plans are huge steps in the right direction.
To learn more about E.O. Wilson’s Half Earth project, visit eoWilsonFoundation.org.