In a recent VTDigger Commentary, Jon Leibowitz, Executive Director of the Northeast Wilderness Trust describes New England’s present-day conservation status and makes the urgent case for accelerated protection, restoration, and designation of connected wilderness areas under the current global 30 x 30 effort to conserve 30% of Earth’s terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by 2030.

While conservation of all types of landscapes is essential, Leibowitz emphasizes the vital roles that forever-wild ecosystems play to keep our planet, including nonhuman and human inhabitants, healthy. 30 x 30’s ambitious science-informed goals present a framework for supporting biodiversity, providing environmental benefits and services like clean air and water, and maximizing carbon emissions storage, all of which require bold and unconventional actions as the planet’s carbon emissions and average temperatures continue to break records.

Liebowitz also points to the unique opportunity and necessity of partnership with underrepresented groups historically excluded from the conservation conversation. The consequences of inaction or misdirected efforts often disproportionately harm the most vulnerable and nature-dependent communities. Land trusts, government entities, and the public all hold essential responsibilities and have distinct roles to play, but we must not continue to operate in a conservation-as-usual fashion, he adds. Fortifying today’s monumental efforts for tomorrow’s future will require diverse leadership and representation at the decision-making table.