13. California Conservation Context (30×30)

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California State Conservation Context (30×30)

Friday, October 21 at 8:00-9:40 am, Pine Room

Session Description: In recent years, the state of California has initiated ambitious endeavors to conserve its biodiversity while adapting to a changing climate and other challenges, such as wildfire and the development of renewable energy. Initiatives like 30×30, the governor’s biodiversity executive order, and recent budget investments provide a framework for a sustainable future for the state’s natural areas and its human inhabitants.

Session Chair: Kim Delfino (Earth Advocacy, Sacramento, CA, USA)

13.1 Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating conservation of California’s nature

Madeline Drake (California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Natural Resources Agency, Sacramento, CA, USA)

In October 2020, Governor Newsom issued the Nature-Based Solutions Executive Order N-82- 20, advancing biodiversity conservation as an administration priority and elevating the role of nature in the fight against climate change. As part of this Executive Order, California committed to the goal of conserving 30% of our lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30). California’s initiative seeks to protect and restore biodiversity, expand access to nature, and mitigate and build resilience to climate change. This effort drives and aligns with broader state commitments to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, strengthen tribal partnerships, and sustain our economic prosperity, clean energy resources, and food supply. After more than a year of public engagement, the California Natural Resources Agency released its final Pathways to 30×30 strategy document in April 2022. For the purposes of California’s 30×30 goal, a “30×30 Conservation Area” is defined as land and coastal water areas that are durably protected and managed to sustain functional ecosystems, both intact and restored, and the diversity of life that they support. Using the best available datasets, approximately 24% of California’s lands and 16% of its coastal waters are already conserved. California’s strategy to conserve an additional six million acres of land and half a million acres of coastal waters is organized into ten Pathways that identify specific state actions that will help us achieve 30×30. Implementation of this strategy will be led by the California Natural Resources Agency in partnership with champions across the state, through the 30×30 Partnership. Public participation and input have been critical to help the state identify strategies for conserving lands and coastal waters that reflect local and regional priorities. Continued meaningful community engagement and collaboration will be necessary to ensure our success in achieving 30×30.

13.2 How WCB is furthering 30 X 30 goals

Rebecca Fris (Wildlife Conservation Board, Sacramento,CA, USA)

California is faced with continued threats to protection of our valuable biodiversity. Given increased fires and drought, the importance of supporting the resilience of our habitats to these climate threats is imperative and protection and restoration of these landscapes is a key path forward. The recent Pathways to 30 X 30 California document identifies how to accelerate these conservation efforts. The Wildlife Conservation Board has a long history of land protection and habitat restoration throughout the state and is working with its partners to implement 30 X 30 by protecting biodiversity, increasing resiliency through habitat protection and connectivity and also providing access to Californians to these properties, where appropriate. Project examples, resources available for project implementation, and the vision of WCB in implementing 30 X 30 will be discussed.

13.3 Opportunities and Challenges in Advancing 30×30 and Natural and Working Lands Climate Solutions in California’s Central Valley.

Mike Lynes (Audubon California)

California’s Central Valley is one of the least protected landscapes in the state, with less than five percent of its historic wetlands remaining and compounding challenges of unsustainable water use, drought, climate change, and a legacy of air and water pollution that increasingly harms people and diminishes biodiversity. Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-82-80 committed the state to implementing 30×30, completing a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy, and expanding access to nature, especially for nature-deprived communities. Success of the initiatives relies on significant investments in California’s Central Valley and taking advantage of land-use decisions that affect urbanization, ag, and water use. Using existing data sets and emerging information, Audubon California is developing science-based strategies for advancing conservation to benefit birds, the habitats they rely on, and people in the Central Valley. Audubon is identifying conservation opportunities as part of the 30×30 process, considering variables such as existing public lands, water availability, and proximity to disadvantaged and climate-vulnerable communities. Outcomes will help guide local- and state-level planning and funding that will affect land acquisition, management, renewable energy siting, groundwater recharge, and other important land use decisions. Audubon’s work in the Central Valley connects to its broader efforts at the state and federal levels to advance 30×30 and nature-based climate solutions. Ultimately, success of these initiatives depends on significant increases in funding and other policy commitments to conserve California’s biodiversity and ensure more equitable access to the benefits of nature for everyone.

13.4 Critical role of land trusts in advancing 30×30

Ariana Rickard (Sonoma Land Trust, Santa Rosa, CA, USA)

California has joined over 72 countries, including the United States, in setting a goal of conserving 30% of our lands and coastal waters by 2030. Achieving this goal will allow California to protect biodiversity, expand equitable access to nature, and build resilience to climate change. Scientists warn that we must meet the 30×30 goal to avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet and safeguard the earth’s biodiversity. At the same time, maintaining and restoring ecosystems is recognized as a crucial step to improving people’s access to nature and its benefits. California has more native plant and animal species than any other state in the U.S., a high concentration of endemic species, and 686 species at risk of extinction. From the San Pablo baylands, through the Marin Coast-Blue Ridge Critical Linkage, and into the Russian River watershed, Sonoma Land Trust has projects and programs focused on our most threatened species and habitat areas. Sonoma Land Trust is playing a key role in helping the state and the nation achieve the 30×30 goal through purchase of land and stewardship of our 17 nature preserves managed for biodiversity conservation, and most of our conservation easements which were originally identified for their unique biological value. Our programs are designed to get us to our 30×30 goal of conserving 30% of Sonoma County’s land base – the gateway to larger, connected systems – by 2030. And we have already begun work. With community support and adequate funding, we are confident that we can achieve the 30×30 goals in Sonoma County and conserve this biodiversity hotspot for future generations. Two years down & eight more to go to achieve this ambitious goal. The clock is ticking, and we must move fast to conserve our state’s unique biodiversity and create a resilient Sonoma that is in the best condition to buffer us from catastrophic impacts of climate change such as sea-level rise, flooding, extreme heat, droughts, and severe wildfire.

13.5 Stewardship, invasive plants, and 30×30

Doug Johnson (California Invasive Plant Council, Berkeley, CA, USA)

The California state government is redoubling its commitment to protecting natural resources. The 30×30 initiative, combined with increased natural resource funding, growing collaborations, and more efficient permitting are hopeful signs of a stronger, more systematic approach to safeguarding biodiversity and building climate resilience. However, protecting more land through acquisition is only part of what’s needed; as those working in land management have long advocated, ongoing stewardship is essential for realizing the value of those lands. The state does make funds available for restoration projects, but that does not adequately address the need for widely distributed stewardship activities. One of the most important aspects of ongoing stewardship is invasive plant management. Beyond simply maintaining a site, stewardship requires coordinating management action across jurisdictions and ownership at the landscape level. This is especially critical for implementing effective early detection and rapid response, or EDRR. This approach is the only way to identify and control new invasive plant problems in a region before they become widespread. Regional coordination through county-based Weed Management Areas (WMAs) has proven successful at providing much-needed collaborative infrastructure. Cal-IPC provides technical support to WMAs by maintaining aggregated distribution mapping of invasive plant species across the state, with projections of future range shifts. Funding for invasive plant management and WMAs is the purview of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, while environmental protection is primarily the purview of the California Natural Resources Agency. This presents key challenges that need to be addressed if California is to build a strong system of stewardship and meet its long-term conservation goals.

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Jepson Herbarium
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