Expanding Nature-Based Solutions

Accelerating nature-based solutions to achieve California’s climate change goals

Our lands are a critical yet underutilized sector in the fight to achieve carbon neutrality and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. In October 2020, Governor Newsom called for accelerated use of nature-based solutions to deliver on California’s climate change goals through Executive Order N-82-20. Among other action items, called for this Strategy to align relevant existing state efforts under one cohesive strategy and identify land management actions that help protect climate-vulnerable communities, achieve carbon neutrality, improve public health and safety, and expand economic opportunity.

“Once again, California is taking on the mantle of global climate leadership and advancing bold strategies to fight climate change,” said Governor Newsom. “The science is clear that, in our existential fight against climate change, we must build on our historic efforts in energy and emissions and focus on our lands as well. California’s beautiful natural and working lands are an important tool to help slow and avert catastrophic climate change.”

NEW: Draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy was released for public comment on October 11. The public comment period ended on November 24. This Strategy will inform the 2021 State Adaptation Strategy and the 2022 Scoping Plan. Please check back soon for more updates. 

If you or your organization has images of before and after climate smart land management projects, successful nature-based solutions; or iconic California landscapes we would love to feature them in our final version. For details on how to submit images check out the How to Provide Input on the Draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy section, below.

California is doubling down on our efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. In October 2020, Governor Newsom called for accelerated use of nature-based solutions to deliver on California’s climate change goals through Executive Order (EO) N-82-20.

The EO outlined a comprehensive and results-oriented nature-based solutions agenda for California, including the development of a Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to align relevant existing state efforts under one cohesive strategy and identify land management actions that help protect climate vulnerable communities, achieve carbon neutrality, improve public health and safety, and expand economic opportunity.  

“Nature-based solutions” describe actions that work with and enhance nature to help address societal challenges. This term is an umbrella concept being used across the world to describe a range of ecosystem-related approaches that protect and restore nature to deliver multiple outcomes, including addressing climate change, protecting public health, increasing equity, and protecting biodiversity.  

“Natural and working lands” are a cornerstone of California’s nature-based climate solution sector. These lands cover approximately 90 percent of the state’s 105 million acres,  including California Native American tribes’ ancestral and cultural lands and waters and the iconic landscapes we know and love:

FORESTS – lands with greater than or equal to 10% canopy cover comprised of live trees, such as oak woodlands, riparian forests, and conifer forests. 

SHRUBLANDS & CHAPARRAL - lands with greater than or equal to 10% canopy cover comprised of shrubs or chapparal. These lands are dominated by woody plants such as manzanita, sage brush, and huckleberry oak. 

DEVELOPED LANDS - lands developed for human use, such as urban, suburban, and rural communities; urban forests; and physical infrastructure.

WETLANDS – lands saturated by water for all or portions of a year, such as coastal wetlands, floodplains, peatlands, mountain meadow wetlands, and vernal pools. 

SEAGRASSES & SEAWEEDS - seagrasses are marine flowering plants, such as eelgrass and surfgrass. Seaweeds are algae, such as kelp. 

CROPLANDS – lands with annual or perennial crops and fallow land, such as perennial orchards and irrigated annual crops. 

GRASSLANDS – lands with less than 10% tree canopy cover that are dominated by grasses or herbaceous vegetation.

SPARSELY VEGETATED LANDS – lands characterized primarily by low levels of vegetation, including deserts, beaches, and areas covered by ice, snow, and bare rock. 

The Natural Resources Agency partnered with more than a dozen state agencies to develop the draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy.

 

The draft strategy has been shaped by months of public participation and collaboration, including Tribal consultations, public input surveys, regional discussions, and topical workshops (summaries can be found here). Efforts to engage Californians in shaping the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy were undertaken in conjunction with our outreach to inform the state’s approach to conserving 30% of our lands and coastal waters by 2030.

 The draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy was released for public comment on October 11 and ended on November 24. We appreciate your input and look forward to sharing updates and a final strategy in the coming months. 

Draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy (full size 230 MB)

Draft Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy (reduced size 10 MB)

Appendices

A. Natural and Working Landscapes – Classification and Definitions 
B. Summary of Public Engagement 
C. Endnotes 
D. Comprehensive List of Existing State Efforts 
E. Land Cover Data Methodology

 

The Draft was released for public comment on October 11, 2021. The public comment period closed on November 24, 2021.

Provide a comment using the following ways:

Mail: 

California Natural Resources Agency
715 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Voicemail:

1-800-417-0668 to leave a voicemail

Email:

CaliforniaNature@resources.ca.gov

If you or your organization has images of before and after climate smart land management projects, successful nature-based solutions; or iconic California landscapes we would love to feature them!

Examples of Nature-Based Solutions images:

  • Prescribed or cultural fire
  • Restoring wetlands and riparian areas
  • Introducing more natural vegetation in cities and communities
  • Green infrastructure
  • Healthy soils
  • Conservation that delivers a climate benefit
  • Nature-based climate solutions that reduce climate risks to vulnerable communities

If your organization is interested in sharing pictures, please email them to Heather Williams at the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA). Please include a description/caption of the image, the organization's name, and the image date(s). Send only high-resolution images (1200x800 or larger). By emailing these pictures, you give CNRA the right to use these images in our nature-based solutions and climate-smart land efforts.