Expanding Nature-Based Solutions

Expanding California’s natural and working lands to meet the state’s climate goals.

Our Agency is leading efforts to coordinate the first statewide Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to drive long-term climate action across key California landscapes. This strategy was called for in Governor Newsom’s nature-based solutions Executive Order intended to accelerate climate smart land management in the coming years and decades.

Leveraging our natural and working lands to implement nature-based solutions will deliver meaningful and credible climate outcomes – both to achieve carbon neutrality and build resilience to climate change impacts. Many of these solutions can simultaneously contribute to several of the state’s economic and environmental goals. Climate smart land management can also deliver significant benefits beyond climate to Californians, such as food security,  clean air and water, increased access to nature, , improved public health, biodiversity protection, and much more.

A successful Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy will:

  • Accelerate and expand climate smart land management across California.
  • Increase carbon removal and sequestration.
  • Better protect communities and ecosystems from climate-driven threats.
  • Catalyze partnerships and leverage resources.

As we develop the state’s NWL Climate Smart Strategy, our Agency will work with the California Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and other agencies to ensure a collaborative process incorporating inclusive, collaborative conversations, Tribal consultations, regional discussions and topical workshops. We encourage you to visit this page to view regular updates and more information.

To sign up for our Nature-Based Solutions outreach list email outreach@resources.ca.gov with “NBS” in the subject line.

Please view the below webinar to learn more about how California plans to expand nature-based solutions and advance 30 by 30.

Our effort to expand climate smart land management is directly tied to our 30 by 30 initiative, so success also means building a Climate Smart Lands Strategy that will help us meet 30 by 30. Likewise, 30 by 30 can help our climate smart lands effort by prioritizing conservation of landscapes that have large carbon sequestration potential or the ability to protect vulnerable people and places.

Our 30 by 30 goal recognizes that we must act now to protect California’s biodiversity, address climate change, and achieve a California for All. By Executive Order, Governor Newsom directed our Agency to work with state agencies and partners to advance strategies that will conserve at least 30 percent of California’s land and waters by 2030. As one of the world’s 36 “biodiversity hotspots,” California and its high concentration of unique species are experiencing unprecedented threats. This Executive Order underscores California’s commitment to proactively protect species in decline and leverage actions from the environment to achieve biodiversity and reduce the harmful effects of climate change. We are the first U.S. state to join the international 30 by 30 movement and we will continue to work with our partners to accomplish our goal. We look forward to sharing updates on our progress to achieve 30 by 30.

Part of the 30 by 30 effort includes, the California Biodiversity Collaborative which brings together groups and leaders from across our state to take bold action to maintain California’s extraordinary natural richness. This Collaborative was a directive set forth in Governor Newsom 30 by 30 Executive Order and is the next generation of the State’s Biodiversity Initiative.

Protecting our Lands

It is estimated that conserving 30 percent of the planet's land is required to protect roughly 75 percent of Earth's species and slow climate change by storing carbon in plants and soil. But how close are we to achieving this goal and how will we reach it?

One analysis of the USGS’s Protected Areas database estimates approximately 22% (23.1 million acres) of California’s 104.8 million terrestrial acres are already conserved. This assessment is based on “Gap 1 and Gap 2” land classifications which are “managed for biodiversity.”  Through the Biodiversity Collaborative we intend to explore these and other land classification efforts to determine how they represent working lands, lands used for recreation and other uses.  This effort will allow us to develop an inclusive definition of “conserved” that represents the diversity of conservation efforts and outcomes found across California. This definition will be used to develop a “Pathways to 30 by 2030” document which will identify conservation opportunities and strategies to help California achieve our goal.

Achieving 30 by 30 does not mean sectioning off land designated for development. We recognize our State’s need to grow, and we know that smart planning allows for both conservation and development. We also recognize the State’s historical outdoor heritage and will develop a definition for conservation that does not exclude people or use. Our 30 by 30 goal recognizes the many economic and recreational uses our lands provide and will be built with the perspectives of those whose livelihoods are shaped by its management.

Protecting our Coasts and Oceans

Governor Newsom’s recent Executive Order seeks to advance land and coastal water marine conservation to protect California’s biodiversity and build climate resilience. About half a million acres of California’s oceans are “protected” (approximately 16%) through its network of 124 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which the State manages. While the State’s MPA network is world-renowned for the conservation measures it advances for certain marine waters zero to three miles off California’s coast, the creation of no take and partial take areas was controversial in the recreational and commercial fishing communities, as well as with some Tribes.

The MPA network is currently undergoing a decadal review, which will be complete in 2022. The results of the decadal review may be used to develop recommendations on better management of the MPA network. However, Prior to the completion of the decadal review, MPA network expansion will not be a component of meeting the state’s 30 x 30 marine conservation goals. 

The Governor’s EO’s commitment to reaching 30% of coastal marine conservation is based on advancing measures beyond the MPAs (such as enhancing biodiversity safeguards in National Marine Sanctuaries, National Estuary Programs, and Areas of Special Biological Significance) and through the collaborative stakeholder process.  The final strategy for achieving protection of 30% protection of state coastal waters can be developed as part of the state biodiversity plan and modified as needed after completion of the decadal review of the MPA network.

CNRA seeks to collaborate with tribal partners to better understand our shared interests, explore opportunities to collaborate, exchange information, and to incorporate tribal expertise and traditional ecological knowledge into this effort as appropriate. We believe that Governor Newsom’s 30 by 30 commitment and climate priorities serve as valuable opportunities to safeguard the environment, preserve tribal cultural practices, strengthen nation-to-nation relationships, and inform stewardship, conservation and management efforts. Our hope is that tribal expertise and traditional ecological knowledge imparted through this effort will also inform other state efforts to build climate resilience, including through the Water Resilience Portfolio.

If your Tribe would like to engage in direct consultation, please contact Andrea Ambriz, Deputy Secretary of External Affairs at Andrea.Ambriz@resources.ca.gov to set up a web-based or conference call consultation, or explore how to submit written comments.

Additionally, CNRA will host Tribal Listening Sessions in the coming months to collect additional tribal input on these topics. Participation information will be available at this website.