Conserve Virginia Map: Helping Policy Makers Ensure a Healthy Environment and a Vital Economy

Virginia is the first state in the country to compile an online, interactive map with detailed layers that can be used as a tool for developing policies on climate change and biodiversity.  Release of the map coincides with news from the recent United Nations report that one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction.  The implications for human survival are grave.  To avoid catastrophe, 30 percent of the planet must be managed for nature by 2030, and half of the planet must be protected by 2050!  This high level of protection is necessary to safeguard biodiversity, slow extinctions, help maintain a steady climate, and promote benefits that humans derive from nature - such as filtration of drinking water and storage of carbon that would otherwise increase global warming.
The new map allows users to apply a variety of land use layers - forest, historical, agriculture, biodiversity, threat of development, land protected by government and private entities, etc.  The map can assist government planners and environmental organizations in identifying land that is significant but not currently protected, prioritizing it for protection in the future.
Fifteen percent of the planet’s land is now officially protected.  In the U.S., we protect 14 percent.  Is it possible to do more?  Yes.  Ten countries already protect more than 40 percent of their land.  In Virginia, 16 percent of land is protected.  In Nelson County, the figure is 13 percent, but nearly half is privately-owned land under conservation easements, so the question is:  Will the new map actually lead to more land protection here in our back yard?  The heart of our economy is tourism, and tourists love our beautiful scenery.  Our continued economic vitality may depend on landowners voluntarily placing more land under conservation easements, as described by state code and the IRS.    See Conserve Virginia Here

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