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30% Land Conservation Goal Planned By NYS

Legislation has been proposed to set a state goal to conserve at least 30% of the land in New York state by 2030.

A.5390, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany, and S.4629, sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky, D-Rockville Centre, would amend the state Environmental Conservation Law to set the 30% goal as well as to develop strategies to safeguard the state’s sustainability and food security; helps conservation measures on natural areas, working lands; builds climate resilience and reduces risk from extreme climate events and contribute to the state’s efforts to combat climate change. Expanding equitable outdoor access and outdoor recreation will also be given precedence.

“Every 30 seconds, a football field worth of natural area disappears to development in the United States. Over the last 10 years, natural weather disasters, exacerbated by a rapidly changing global climate, cost New York State and the federal government an estimated $37.3 billion in response and is projected to cost an additional $55 billion by 2029, according to Rebuild By Design, a coalition of New York’s leading infrastructure experts and stakeholders,” Fahy and Kaminsky wrote in their legisaltive justification.

The legislation also prioritizes investments in activities that promote biodiversity protection, habitat restoration, wildfire resiliency and sustainably managed landscapes. The DEC’s State Land Acquisition Plan will also take into account actions to increase the pace and scale of environmental restoration and land management efforts; and work with state agencies to implement natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere and to build climate resilience in the state’s forests, wetlands, urban greenspace, agricultural soil and land conservation activities.

“Scientists warn that in order to bolster resilience to climate change and prevent mass extinctions of species critical to our ecosystem, we must preserve 30% of our lands and water systems globally by 2030,” Kaminsky and Fahy wrote in their legislative justification. “In 2018, the Center for American Progress found that just 12% of total U.S. land is conserved or protected, while approximately 19% of New York State land is currently conserved or protected. This bill directs the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and relevant state agencies to set strategic goals for achieving the conservation of at least 30% of New York State’s land by 2030. The agencies would be tasked with identifying land available for conservation and prioritizing the conservation of land that would promote biodiversity, preserve open space and protect green space in urban areas. The bill would also ensure any conservation plan takes the needs of environmental justice communities into account.”

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