New York rallies to join the push for 30x30

In Jan. 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that pledged to conserve at least 30% of lands and waters in the U.S. by 2030. The goal of this 30x30 initiative is to address the climate crisis by safeguarding biodiversity, protecting clean air and water, increasing carbon sequestration, protecting habitats, and promoting greater climate resiliency. Research shows that this is the minimum level of conservation needed to mitigate the worst effects of climate change globally.

By Marguerite Royo May 18

Although 30x30 has been issued as a national goal, it is important that there is also commitment at the state level. There has been momentum at the state level over the past couple years, with California being the first state to create a 30x30 goal with an executive order in 2020. There is currently a push in New York to pass Legislation (A. 5390-B S. 6191-A) that would protect 30% of the state’s lands and waters by 2030. This would not only help to advance the national 30x30 goal but would also provide New Yorkers with more of the direct benefits of conservation.

Increasing conservation across the state in the next decade would provide more equitable access to the outdoors, support local food production, offer flood risk reduction, and lower summer temperatures particularly in urban areas. New York’s economy would experience a boost from the outdoor recreation and tourism industries, while the immense costs from the impacts of climate change would be lessened. Because 19% of New York state is already protected, 30x30, while ambitious, is a highly achievable goal. As leaders in private land conservation, New York land trusts are already working to help make this vision a reality. According to the 2020 Land Trust Census, New York land trusts have conserved nearly two million acres and serve more 1 million visitors each year. Locally driven conservation will directly benefit New York’s residents and natural areas by ensuring that the state is not overlooked in the national push for 30x30. New York’s unique landscape of urban and rural communities necessitate the protection of natural areas and agricultural land to deliver natural climate solutions for all.

The climate crisis won’t wait, so the time to act is now. New York has an opportunity to help lead the charge on 30x30, and the land trust community is here to help make this goal possible.