For Immediate Release,
January 27, 2021
WASHINGTON— President Joe Biden will issue an executive order today directing federal officials to protect 30% of the country’s lands and ocean waters by 2030, part of an effort to slow the wildlife extinction crisis and curb global warming.
“This is a crucial step to stopping the wildlife extinction crisis, which threatens the future of all life on our planet,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve got to preserve the most biologically rich ecosystems to have any hope of bringing nature back from the brink. Human activity got us to this heartbreaking point, and we’re grateful the Biden administration will address this global crisis by working to protect 30% of the nation’s lands and oceans by 2030.”
Under the president’s order, the Interior Department will determine how to measure the country’s progress toward the 30x30 goal and outline steps to achieve it. Federal officials also will support local, state, private and tribal conservation and restoration efforts and work to improve access to nature for low-income communities and communities of color.
Three-quarters of the planet’s lands and two-thirds of its ocean have been heavily altered by humans. Habitat loss and degradation remains the largest driver of extinction in the United States and around the world. The U.S. loses a football-field worth of natural area every 30 seconds to human development, severely affecting wildlife, fresh water and clean air.
The United Nations last year said more than 1 million plant and animal species are heading toward extinction. Species are dying out at hundreds to thousands of times the natural rate. For example, there are less than 400 North Atlantic right whales left, just 14 red wolves known in the wild in North Carolina, and likely around 10 vaquita porpoises in Mexico. In the Southeast extinction looms for 28% of the region’s fishes, 48% of crayfishes and nearly 70% of freshwater mussels.
A year ago the Center launched Saving Life on Earth, a plan that calls for a $100 billion investment to save species and the creation of new national monuments and parks, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries so that 30% of U.S. lands and waters are fully conserved and protected by 2030 and 50% by 2050.