Land and Water Conservation

Mason Cummings, TWS

Working to preserve public lands and waters

The Wilderness Society works to catalyze the creation of a network of landscapes and linked habitat that will sustain human well-being and ecological integrity, from large-scale landscapes to small parks. It seeks and achieves lasting protections in critical places by using science, traditional knowledge and community engagement.

In this work, The Wilderness Society centers the needs of those who live closest to, and are most dependent on, public lands and waters, as well as those who have been disproportionately burdened by nature loss and lack of access to the benefits of nature. The organization works with communities, tribes, regional partners and lawmakers to give these places special status like wilderness or national monuments, fighting against development in sensitive areas and defending important conservation laws already on the books

30x30

Protecting 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 to meet environmental challenges

The goal of the 30 x 30 movement is to address the devastating loss of nature across the globe. In approximately the last 20 years, we’ve lost 1.2 million square miles of wild land worldwide—about the same as the total area of India. If development and destruction continue at that rate, scientists say there will be no truly wild places left without human disturbance in less than a century. This loss of nature affects our sources of clean air and water as well as the places we recreate. It also means fewer places to act as refuge for people and wildlife struggling to adapt to climate change. Additionally, this trend is hurting our ability to combat climate change itself, as forests and other landscapes with a great capacity to absorb greenhouse gas emissions are being wiped out.

The 30 x 30 movement is designed to address this unprecedented crisis. Building on the 12 percent of U.S. lands The Wilderness Society and our allies have already helped protect since our founding, we’re joining with partners on an initiative to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by the year 2030, guided by science and the traditional knowledge and input of Indigenous communities and communities of color. This goal mirrors an international effort to protect 30 percent of the Earth’s wild areas, which scientists say is the minimum needed to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, including widespread loss of species.  

We’re working to ensure 30 x 30 is built on the needs of the people – those who live closest to, and are most dependent on, these lands and waters, as well as those who have been disproportionately burdened by nature loss and lack of access to the benefits of nature. We must also ensure that what we protect is preserved as a network of linked habitat, including both large-scale landscapes and small parks, so species are able to migrate and otherwise move around in response to climate change and other shifts.