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Working Lands for Conservation: A Vital Step for 30x30

Adina M. Merenlender, UC ANR Cooperative Extension Specialist and Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Environmental, Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley and UC ANR Hopland Research & Extension Center


Protected areas alone are not going to safeguard biodiversity especially as species need to cross park boundaries under rapid climate change. In fact, by 2070 most protected areas will retain approximately10% of their current climate characteristics, forcing many species to move or perish. Working lands conservation emphasizes the role of managing the matrix for species conservation to complement protected areas. Drawing on a summary of working lands research conducted by Claire Kremen at University of British Columbia, it’s clear that public and private lands can work for conservation while sustaining production of food, water, fiber, fuel, and forest products. This research reveals how the use of “wildlife-friendly” agroecological practices can maintain agricultural productivity while lowering environmental externalities and support biodiversity. Working lands are noted as part of the solution set proposed by the California 30x30 initiative, “Overall, this Executive Order prioritizes the role of natural and working lands to combat climate change and establishes biodiversity protection as an administration priority.” However, we need ways to ensure working lands are sustainably supporting a diversity of species and find ways to scaleup the adoption of stewardship practices that support the community of life. The IUCN developed criteria to identify “other effective area-based conservation measures” that fall outside of traditional protected areas but may contribute to Aichi Target11 (under the Convention on Biodiversity); and these criteria could offer a good starting point to identifying working lands that may contribute to the goals of 30x30. A review of the challenges and opportunities presented by a wide range of regulatory, voluntary, incentive, market-based, and governance instruments reveals more structures are needed to advance working lands for conservation and achieve the goals set out by 30x30.