SAF Comments on the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas

March 8, 2022

When President Biden signed Executive Order 14008 on January 27, 2021—otherwise known as Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad—he set into motion a national-scale effort to address the climate change and biodiversity crises. The America the Beautiful initiative was born out of this Executive Order and is now driving a ten-year challenge to conserve, connect, and restore US lands, waters, and wildlife.

An interagency working group, co-led by the Interior Department’s US Geological Survey, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is currently developing a tool to help track the progress of these conservation efforts. Referred to as the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas (hereafter Atlas), this new tool will be publicly accessible and offer “baseline information on the lands and waters that are conserved or restored.” A beta version of the Atlas is expected to be released by the end of the year.

To guide the development of its beta version, the interagency working group solicited public comments and hosted three listening sessions to answer key questions about the makeup of the Atlas. These questions included: what lands and management strategies meet the definition of conserved or restored? How should we retrieve this data and communicate with land managers? How do we best display this data through mapping and baseline information? 

We believe that conservation in the Atlas should be understood as a continuum from designated reserves (e.g., National Wildlife Refuges, Wilderness Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, etc.) to managed and working lands, which will ensure that the Atlas reflects all lands contributing to the conservation of forests and rangelands. Accordingly, SAF submitted its own public comment that emphasizes the contributions and importance of managed and working forests in meeting our national conservation goals.

Forestry professionals continue to demonstrate that we can create adaptive management solutions that simultaneously address the mounting challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and human resource needs. Continuing to sustainably manage our forests—whether public or private—requires that we support and encourage these holistic strategies and the professionals who make them possible.

For more information on topics like managing forests for carbon and forest biodiversity, take a look at the position statements that guide SAF’s advocacy and outreach.

Click here to read SAF's comments.