A new report outlines the benefits offered by preserving 30 percent of the country’s remaining natural land and oceans by 2030
Between 2001 and 2017, the lower 48 states lost more than 24 million acres to human development. This figure, detailed in a new report published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) in conjunction with Conservation Science Partners (CSP), amounts to a loss of roughly one football field-sized patch of land every 30 seconds.
According to the report, human activities including urban development, energy and transportation are responsible for the drastic decline in natural expanses. Largely preventable, the losses—steepest in the southern and midwestern United States—pose a significant threat to the country’s clean air, drinking water supply, and ability to protect against extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.
“In losing our natural landscapes, we’re losing a part of the American soul—especially in the West,” CSP President Brett Dickson tells the Denver Post’s Bruce Finley. “We’re eating away at our cherished landscapes. And we’re at risk of losing the places that provide Americans with things like clean water and landscapes for recreation that allow wildlife populations to persist and move freely.”
Jean Lotus of UPI writes that CSP researchers used data from road networks, as well as satellite images of vegetation, energy infrastructure and nighttime light pollution, to determine what percentage of the continental U.S. has undergone human modification since 2001.