President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled plans to locally protect 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030. This is at the core of his anti-global warming agenda, which builds on nature conservation efforts initiated in Congress by lawmakers from Colorado and other western states.
Natural land and water could reduce the heat-storing air pollution that is causing climate change, scientists say, and nature is increasingly being understood as a life support system for human survival in both cities and rural areas. Preserving at least 30% land and water by 2030 is necessary to withdraw from a catastrophic turning point.
Governor Jared Polis issued a statement recognizing Colorado as a leader in collaborative “science-based approaches” to meeting Biden’s climate goals.
Biden’s announcement “opens the door to a collaborative and sustainable path to preserving our critical ecosystems, supporting the way of life in Colorado, while closing the door to fears of comprehensive, unified mandates,” said Polis. “The west, Colorado in particular, is at the forefront of a changing landscape and climate, yet our connections with nature underpin almost every aspect of our lives and economies. We need to embark on an inclusive path to long-term sustainability of our natural world, and Colorado’s leadership will play a key role in this. “
Local leaders across the state showed support.
“This national plan really confirms what we’ve been working on for the past four years,” said Greg Felt, chairman of the Chaffee County Commission. “There are many potential benefits here. What we’re talking about is like capital assets, and you don’t want to spend capital assets to pay for running costs. Our landscape is really what we are about – economically and in the interests of our community. “
But what counts as protection and what is not has proven to be a challenge.
Biden officials set the unprecedented national goal of “30 by 30” in a 22-page report titled “Preserving and Restoring America’s Beautiful” and recommended a 10-year campaign to save and restore forests, wetlands and other natural areas, to curb global warming.
White House officials at meetings across the country emphasized voluntary conservation by private landowners, as well as state, local and federal protection of public land and water.
Colorado conservation groups are positioning the state to play a key role in developing a strategy to save 14 million acres that remain largely undeveloped within the state’s 67 million acres – by promoting voluntary conservation efforts on private land and new parks create cities and rural areas and recall the development of public spaces.
About 10% of the land and water in Colorado are currently receiving formal protection.
Biden’s governance plan has gained widespread support, but it also faces political obstacles as property rights groups raise concerns.
The goal of saving nature grew from scientists, concerned about climate change, calculating what would be necessary to ensure human survival and slow the extinction of other species. You have said that the loss of natural areas, including wildlife habitat, is a major threat.
Scientists at the international level support a “global nature agreement” which is supposed to protect 50% of the planet by 2050 and which is to be discussed this autumn in Kunming, China, as part of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. Achieving this goal has been interpreted by US supporters to mean that 30% of the land and water must be protected before 2030, which equates to efforts in dozens of countries.
According to the US Geological Survey, approximately 12% of the US land and 23% of the oceans across the country are protected. An analysis by Conservation Science Partners found that the United States lost natural terrain the size of a soccer field every 30 seconds from 2001 to 2017 as people expanded highways, mines, suburbs, and other areas.
Protecting 30% of land and water by 2030, proponents say, will require collaborative efforts by landowners, tribal nations, cities, rural communities and others to maintain and restore nature.
Last year, U.S. Representative Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, enacted House legislation to achieve the goal. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Along with former New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, pushed similar laws into the Senate.
A week after his presidency, Biden pledged to hit the 30-by-30 target and won bipartisan support. Biden instructed Interior Minister Deb Haaland, Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack and Trade Minister Gina Raimondo to develop a plan by April 27.
Federal officials have suspended federal leases for the development of new fossil fuels on public land and bodies of water. And efforts under President Donald Trump to reduce protection for the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments in Utah are currently under review.
Republican opponents have challenged the Biden effort as a “land grab”.
An April 22 letter from the American Farm Bureau Federation to Biden said that concerns of farmers and ranchers “are escalating about the intent of the 30 × 30 target, the definition of protection, and the metrics used to define success.” Federation leaders have asked for recognition that through voluntary conservation programs, farmers and ranchers have already protected more than 140 million acres – an area larger than New York and California combined.
“Any discussion about conservation must begin with the understanding that farmers and ranchers have been leaders in this area for decades,” the letter said.
Vilsack then stated, “There is no intention of taking land away,” saying 30 by 30 would create new opportunities.
In Colorado, where 10% of the state’s 67 million acres are protected, 24% of the land has already been changed by human development, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. Between 2001 and 2017 the development changed by almost 700,000 acres.
In Colorado and Rocky Mountain West, polls show that a majority of residents consider themselves “conservationists” and support 30 times 30 mayors from 70 cities and 450 state and local politicians signed letters declaring their support. At least nine western county governments have passed supportive resolutions, including six in Colorado (Boulder, Gilpin, La Plata, San Miguel, Telluride, and Broomfield).
A Colorado Pathways to 30 × 30 strategy developed last year by Western Resource Advocates and Conservation Colorado calculated that the state already contains approximately 6 million acres of protected land and that through protection and restoration, Colorado can become a 30 × 30 target within the state could reach 14 million acres of land and waterways. But nature is quickly disappearing amid a growth and development boom, the strategy report says.
“In Colorado, this loss of nature is not only dramatic and devastating, but we are also witnessing the effects of climate change in the form of increased catastrophic forest fires, decline in wildlife, increasing drought and tree disease,” the report said. “If we continue the path of natural loss associated with climate change, we will have ever greater consequences that will ultimately collapse entire ecosystems, create dramatic water and food shortages, and affect our economy and quality of life.”