To mitigate the impacts of climate change and stem the loss of biodiversity, scientists have recommended substantial increases in the amount of protected land area. This has led to calls for ambitious new protection targets, among them the Biden administration’s commitment to protecting 30 percent of U.S. public lands by 2030.
Achieving these ambitious targets will require protecting millions of acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, two of the country’s largest land management agencies.
However, prioritizing which acres of public land to protect remains a considerable challenge. This is because of multiple objectives for using the land as well as the wide range of ecological and environmental benefits that a given landscape might provide – including storing carbon, providing habitat for wildlife, and enabling ecological connectivity. There are also potential trade-offs among these co-benefits.
60% of land in the continental U.S. is in a natural state, but we are losing a football field worth of it every 30 seconds.
Only 13% of U.S. lands are permanently protected.