California Becomes First State to Commit to 30 by 30

Sand split at the Klamath River Mouth in California, the ancestral land of the Yurok people. Image: Linda Tanner/Flickr

Last week, California Governor Gavin Newsom enacted an executive order committing California to conserve 30% of its land and waters by 2030. This order compels California’s Natural Resource Agency to work with other state agencies to establish the California Biodiversity Collaborative which will then work with Native American tribes and other stakeholders to create a plan to achieve the conservation goal within a decade.

These conservation efforts will include:

  • Helping California’s agriculture industry adjust its practices to not only adapt to the warming climate but also engage in more sustainable practices, like soil carbon sequestration. 
  • Initiatives to restore soil to health, revive bee populations, cultivate natural carbon sinks, and protect large, carbon-dense trees from burning in wildfires.

As the Desert Sun explained, “the governor’s executive order comes only several weeks after a proposed California bill, AB 3030, which would’ve taken on a very similar conservation goal, died when it was stuck in a committee at the end of the legislative session.

Why this Matters: California is a biodiversity hotspot and nature is critical to its tourism and agricultural industries. As Bay Nature Magazine wrote, At a time when development is paving over habitat and climate change is transforming ecosystems at an unprecedented pace, California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot says the state has a moral imperative to focus on biodiversity.

It’s also worth noting that achieving the Governor’s goal will necessarily require the consultation of native tribes as Indigenous groups are crucial to meeting ‘30 by 30’ worldwide. 

The Impact: It’s unclear how much of Newsom’s executive order was symbolic since 47% of California’s coast and ocean is already under federal jurisdiction. This land is, by design, undeveloped, making it seem as if Newsom’s goal of 30% conservation has already been achieved. 

However, there is a chance that the state government will protect California’s federal land from commercial uses — mining, logging, and cattle grazing, for example. Only 22% of California’s federal land and 16% of its waters are not used for commercial purposes, which would leave the state just shy of its 30 by 30 goal.

However, the state has no control over federal lands, so Newsom said he is aiming to work with private landowners and a diverse array of stakeholders alongside the federal government in order to achieve his conservation plans. 

Go Deeper: Read more about why protecting 30% of nature by 2030 worldwide, is such a crucial goal.


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