Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

CA Takes Major Conservation Step With Final 30×30 Plan

In October 2020, Governor Newsom made news with a bold executive order to fight climate change and conserve biodiversity. And Point Blue was among the many organizations to applaud Newsom’s efforts and pledge to work with his administration to help turn his commitment into an action plan. After 18 months of intensive collaborative planning, draft plans, feedback sessions, and revisions, we were thrilled to read the final Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature strategy and Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy, released exactly two weeks ago on April 22, 2022. What a fantastic Earth Day gift!

Oaks over Laguna de Santa Rosa riparian habitat. Credit: Stacey Atchley-Manzer/Point Blue.

At the heart of the conservation plan is Governor Newsom’s commitment “to conserve at least 30 percent of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030.” This commitment is part of a broad global effort in which countries and regions around the world have made similar pledges in a movement known as “30×30.” Point Blue is proud to have engaged with the inspiring effort led by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to move from Newsom’s commitment to a plan over the past 18 months. We’re especially inspired that in the final version of the “Pathways to 30×30” strategy CNRA listened to feedback from conservation stakeholders including Point Blue who urged the state to think about ways conservation measures must go beyond protected lands in order to meet state biodiversity, equity, and resilience goals.

To that end, the Pathways to 30×30 state strategy now includes a new section titled “Advance and Promote Complementary Conservation Measures.” This section calls out the importance of the model Point Blue embraces, which is to include community members, private landowners, land managers, and working lands producers as critical partners in conservation. By including stewardship and management actions as part of 30×30 – while simultaneously monitoring and evaluating the impact of land stewardship on biodiversity outcomes – we think we can help build 30×30 into a true, inclusive movement to advance conservation across California.

A Point Blue scientists taking data on a rangeland property along the Sonoma Coast. Credit: Taj Hittenberger/Point Blue.

According to the Governor’s office, the original executive order “identified California’s lands as a critical yet underutilized sector in the fight against climate change.” Research has indicated that nature-based solutions can provide up to one-third of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep global temperature increases under the 2°C limit–a limit that, while still disruptive, is considered a tipping point by many scientists. More warming than that and the impacts to global ecosystems and human communities become harder to predict and more dire.

While we know of some of the most effective solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises–like restoring degraded riparian, montane meadow, riparian, and silvopasture areas–important scientific questions remain. Point Blue is at the forefront of answering those questions, including through our new project that seeks to design and implement a framework to identify exactly which management practices can sequester the most carbon on California rangelands (see here and here to learn more).

Pont Blue scientists examine a soil sample as part of an effort to measure carbon sequestration on rangelands. Credit: Lishka Arata/Point Blue

We encourage you to spend time with the reports, maps, and datasets CNRA shared on the special website it launched when it released the final documents in April. One of Point Blue’s unique contributions is that many of our scientific publications and associated recommendations are based on decades worth of data. We will continue to partner with CNRA and other CA agencies as they move to implement these plans, in part through our continued role as a trusted advisor within the CA Biodiversity Network. And we will continue to build upon our core model of working with diverse partners to build durable conservation outcomes for a safe climate future and healthy natural landscapes that are accessible to and benefit everyone. As so eloquently expressed by CNRA’s Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the 30×30 pathway is a movement that embraces all Californians as biodiversity stewards.