CNRA Finalizes Key Strategies For Advancing Biodiversity To Address Climate Change

April 22, 2022 – Today in conjunction with Earth Day, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) released two documents: 

  1. The final Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy to advance California’s commitment to building an equitable, resilient, and carbon-neutral future through climate-focused land management.   
  2. The final Pathways to 30×30: Accelerating Conservation of California’s Nature strategy to support the state’s pledge to conserve 30 percent of California’s lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30) to protect biodiversity, advance equitable access to nature and address climate change.   

These forward-thinking strategies respond to Governor Newsom’s October 2020, Nature-Based Solutions Executive Order N-82-20, advancing biodiversity conservation as an administration priority and elevating the role of nature in the fight against climate change. As part of this Executive Order, California committed to the goal of conserving 30 percent of our lands and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30).   

The two strategies were shaped by months of public engagement. More than 4,100 Californians engaged with the state to provide input through more than a dozen public meetings, regionally based workshops, expert topical panels on key concepts, such as equity and science, and comments on draft strategies. 

Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy  

The Natural and Working Lands (NWL) Climate Smart Strategy establishes California’s approach to delivering on our climate change goals through action in the natural and working lands sector. These lands cover 90 percent of California’s 105 million acres.   

Healthy landscapes can sequester and store carbon, limit future greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change, and build resilience to future impacts of climate change. Unhealthy landscapes have the opposite effect — they release more greenhouse gases than they store, worsen climate risks to people and nature, and are more vulnerable to future climate change impacts. 

Climate smart management of natural and working lands can also deliver on other critical priorities for California, such as improving public health and safety, securing food and water supplies, and increasing equity. 

The NWL Climate Smart Strategy defines eight landscape types that California will better manage for climate action, including forests, farms, communities, and wetlands. It highlights priority nature-based climate solutions to address the climate crisis and describes how these solutions can advance California’s broader environmental, economic, and social objectives. The NWL Climate Smart Strategyalso sets priorities for areas of near-term state focus and underscores the essential role of partnerships for successful climate action in this sector.   


The state’s 30×30 initiative is part of an international movement of over 90 countries to protect nature across the planet. Pathways to 30×30 will drive action on biodiversity, access, and climate across California and complements the state’s NWL Climate Smart Strategy and the California Outdoors for All Initiative.

Pathways to 30×30 aims to accelerate the conservation of California’s lands and coastal waters through voluntary, collaborative action with federal and local governments, Native American Tribes, and private landowners. It is a visionary, science-based set of strategies for conservation that contains practical, easily applicable, and accessible steps to achieve the goals outlined in EO N-82-20.   

The state estimates that 24 percent of California’s lands and 16 percent of our coastal waters are already conserved. To conserve an additional 6 million acres of land and an additional 500,000 acres of coastal waters by 2030, Pathways to 30×30 includes the following 10 Pathways:   

  1. Accelerate Regionally Led Conservation 
  2. Execute Strategic Land Acquisitions  
  3. Increase Voluntary Conservation Easements 
  4. Enhance Conservation of Existing Public Lands and Coastal Waters 
  5. Institutionalize Advance Mitigation 
  6. Expand and Accelerate Environmental Restoration and Stewardship 
  7. Strengthen Coordination Among Governments 
  8. Align Investments to Maximize Conservation Benefits 
  9. Advance and Promote Complementary Conservation Measures 
  10. Evaluate Conservation Outcomes and Adaptively Manage 

CNRA is responsible for overseeing the implementation of Pathways to 30×30, driving near-term strategic actions to advance progress, leveraging public funding, establishing the 30×30 Partnership, and maintaining to inform, empower, and engage conservation champions across the state.  

In conjunction with today’s announcement, CNRA also recently released a fully functional version of CA Nature, a publicly accessible suite of interactive mapping and visualization tools. CA Nature compiles statewide biodiversity, access, climate, and conservation information in one place to advance 30×30. This geographic information system (GIS) will support the implementation of 30×30 efforts at the state, regional and local levels. The website will be regularly updated to track and show progress toward meeting the goals outlined in EO 82-N-20.    

This year’s Earth Day theme is Invest in Our Planet. Join California in leading the way toward an equitable, resilient, and carbon-free future!  

Spanish translation for both strategies will be available soon.