New study shows benefits, and shortfalls, of policy to protect 30% of land by 2030

Written by
B. Rose Huber
B. Rose Huber, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
June 13, 2022

Protecting land and water is essential to preserving habitats for wildlife and mitigating harmful climate change effects. This is why many countries — as well as the U.S. federal government and state of California — have pledged to protect 30% of all land and water by 2030, also known as the “30x30” initiative. In a recent paper, researchers David Wilcove, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and public affairs and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, and Lian Pin Koh, Chair Professor of Conservation at the National University of Singapore, investigated how reaching this ambitious target will benefit conservation and reduce climate change effects. They found that 2.8 million hectares (equal to nearly 7 million acres of land) will be protected; approximately 1,000 animal species whose habitats are currently unprotected will be safeguarded because they inhabit these spaces; and globally, around 20% of countries’ current commitments to reduce carbon emissions could be met.

But the researchers also find that upping the target to 50% goes much further. 

“We show the environmental benefits nearly double if 50% of global lands are protected. With careful planning, this can also achieve multiple targets across important global policies found in the Paris Agreement and other frameworks," said Yiwen Zeng, associate research scholar. 

Environment Tags
Research Themes