In 2021, the Biden administration proposed a hefty goal of conserving 30% of America’s land and water by 2030 (called the “30 by 30” initiative, and later the America the Beautiful Initiative). With over half of forestland in the U.S. being privately owned, landowners worried what this goal might mean for their working forests.
Earlier this year, several agencies released a request for information on how to best develop the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas, which will serve as a tool to compile the conservation, stewardship, and restoration efforts across the U.S. and measure the progress towards meeting the administration’s “30 by 30” goal while framing conservation as a continuum across multiple land and water uses.
FLA submitted comments in March to highlight the many conservation and climate contributions that private working forests already provide under their current management, and asked the agencies to consider the publicly available data on those impacts when crafting the Atlas. Private landowners routinely follow best management practices and utilize other tools to voluntarily conserve the at-risk species and sensitive habitats on their property.
Why this matters: Tools such as this Atlas, if informed by the right partners and data, are an opportunity to emphasize the voluntary and collaborative conservation taking place on private working forests. Private forest landowners manage their land not only for economic return, but for the sustainability for their land to pass on to future generations. They provide conservation at scale, and it is essential that the administration and the agencies recognize their ongoing efforts.
Additionally, FLA believes participation of private forest landowners in projects such as these should remain voluntary and private. Voluntary collaboration promotes mutual gain among all parties and respect for landowner needs, leading to more effective conservation on the ground. Private landowners have a long and successful history of managing forests for long-term productivity and benefits such as clean air, clean water, healthy wildlife habitat, and strong rural economies.
You can read FLA’s full comments here and a more detailed account of FLA’s actions in the April/May issue of Forest Landowner Magazine