Systematic Conservation Planning for the “30 by 30” Target

On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, committing the United States to the various goals within his campaign’s major climate policy, the Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice. Included in this executive order is a commitment to “conserving at least 30 percent of [the United States’] lands and oceans by 2030.” This ambitious conservation target signals a promising direction for biodiversity in the United States. However, while the executive order outlines several goals for climate mitigation, the ‘30×30’ target remains vague in its objectives, actions, and implementation strategies for protecting biodiversity. Biodiversity urgently needs effective conservation action, but it remains unclear where and what this 30% target will be applied to. Achieving different climate and biodiversity objectives will require different strategies and, in combination with the associated costs of implementation, will lead to different priority areas for conservation actions.

This ongoing project investigates how Biden can implement the 30×30 target to maximize outcomes for biodivers, climate, and livelihoods. In our most recent report, we illustrate what the 30% target could look like across four objectives reflective of the ambitious goals outlined in the executive order. We compile several variations of terrestrial protected area networks guided by these different objectives and examine the trade-offs in costs, ecosystem representation, and climate mitigation potential between each. We find little congruence in priority areas across objectives, emphasizing just how crucial it will be for the incoming administration to develop clear objectives and establish appropriate performance metrics from the outset to maximize both conservation and climate outcomes to support the 30×30 target. We discuss important considerations that must guide the administration’s upcoming conservation strategies in order to ensure meaningful conservation outcomes can be achieved in the next decade

this research in the news

Protect species? Curb warming? Save money? Biden’s big conservation goal means trade-offs” – Science Magazine.