Natural and Working Lands
California’s natural and working lands, including our forests, rangelands, urban green spaces, wetlands, and farms, are home to the most diverse sources of food, fiber, and renewable energy in the country. They underpin the State’s water supply and support clean air, wildlife habitat, and local and regional economies. They are also the frontiers of climate change. They are often the first to experience the impacts of climate change, and they must be part of the solution to addressing climate change and its impacts. In short, in order to achieve our long-term climate goals, natural and working lands must play a key role.
These diverse and unique land types provide important and significant environmental and public health benefits to the State, supporting clean air, wildlife and pollinator habitat, recreation, and vibrant economies. Although natural and working lands can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it in soil and vegetation, disturbances such as severe wildfire, land degradation, and conversion can cause these landscapes to emit more carbon dioxide than they store.
It is becoming increasingly clear that California’s natural and working lands are not healthy and that the critical ecosystem services they provide, including their ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, are at risk. Actions to protect, restore, and sustainably manage the health and resiliency of these lands can greatly accelerate our progress to mitigate climate change and our ability to reduce worsening climate change impacts.
California’s 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update emphasized the critical role that managing our natural and working lands to further reduce greenhouse gases and maintain them as a resilient carbon sink has in complementing the measures described in the Scoping Plan. California has also developed a draft Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan to evaluate a range of implementation scenarios for natural and working lands and to identify long-term sequestration goals that can be incorporated into future climate policy.
California continues to evaluate existing and potential state-supported conservation, restoration, and management actions identified in the draft Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan, while also holding public workshops on achieving resilient natural and working lands and their role in helping the State achieve its longer-term climate goals.