2021 is a once-in-an-era opportunity for conservation. In September, world leaders will convene to establish global conservation policy agendas regarding how much nature people need to survive. At this global stage, the Restoring the Rockies coalition will serve as a shining example of how communities within a region can mobilize for the defense of Earth’s biosphere and people’s livelihoods for the benefit of all life.
The Western U.S. is a patchwork of public and private lands spanning nearly 2 million square miles (1 billion acres) of complex and overlapping political and ecological jurisdictions. Many consider the West to be wild country, yet only 12% of land in the American West is safeguarded by permanent protections. Much of the West’s wide open space is unprotected, and those areas that today remain ecologically intact are suffering rapid and detrimental degradation and disconnection. In the next 10 years, we must halt the destruction of nature to achieve no net loss of nature in order to preserve an ecologically stable future for humanity. Restoring the Rockies takes this fact seriously and is expanding awareness of the need for nature while simultaneously mobilizing communities to take action in defense of the West and its contribution to the biosphere.
Scientists have called for the protection of half of planet Earth as an essential measure to halt the mass extinction crisis, maintain ecosystem function, and stabilize the climate emergency. But we cannot achieve these urgently needed outcomes without widespread regional coordination. Restoring the Rockies offers a framework for achieving half by connecting and aligning a regional coalition of decision makers advancing pragmatic policy for the West. Housed within the Nature Needs Half Network, Restoring the Rockies collaborates within a global learning network committed to realizing the conservation of half of nature before it’s too late.
Restoring the Rockies connects and aligns a regional coalition of decision makers advancing urgent and pragmatic policy for the West.
Restoring the Rockies is charting the future of wild nature and life on Earth by mobilizing a coalition of ambitious leaders and communities in the Rocky Mountain West. Working through their spheres of influence, members defend nature at the scale required to maintain life and dignity throughout the region.
RESTORING THE ROCKIES Q&A
How will the Rocky Mountain West sustain the ecosystem services Westerners rely on for basic life needs?
Scientists warn that we are on the threshold of a dangerous and irreversible tipping point if we destroy more than half of our natural landscapes. Study after study concludes that ecological functionality declines precipitously when more than half of a landscape is destroyed. Without lasting protection of at least half of Western lands, essential ecological functions will collapse. We can prevent this catastrophe and secure an ecologically stable future by protecting nature at scale.
How can the Rocky Mountain West leverage its leadership in conservation and large landscape protection to support urgent global conservation initiatives?
Broad support for this visionary and urgent goal by conservation leaders across the West provides momentum to the global Nature Needs Half movement leading up to IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in September 2021. Restoring the Rockies will help encourage national and international leaders to support the protection of half of Earth’s land and seas.
How will the Rocky Mountain West contribute to ending the climate emergency?
The West presently provides critical carbon storage via existing protected areas as well as areas unprotected but yet undisturbed. Protecting nature will grow natural carbon sinks, ensuring carbon stays in the ground to meet COP targets and end the climate emergency.
How will the Rocky Mountain West rectify environmental injustices and secure environmental justice for all?
Nature should benefit all, and conservation needs to be for everyone. Expanding current natural areas to encompass protection of half of each of the West’s ecosystems secures accessibility of nature’s many life-giving benefits to all people. Restoring the Rockies respects the governance and traditional management of native lands by Indigenous Americans.
How will the Rocky Mountain West ensure the longevity of the wildlife and wild places that support regional economies and livelihoods?
Wildlife species across the West face possible or likely extinction as mounting and immediate pressures from climate change, population increase, development, and the subsequent habitat loss sweep the region. Conserving habitat is the single best way to protect biodiversity.
How is the West going to coordinate protection of lands at the scale required for our survival on earth?
Nature Needs Half provides a coordinating principle to inform environmental policy and on-the-ground conservation. Working together, the Restoring the Rockies coalition of municipalities, government leaders, organizations, and individuals will align and push forward efforts to achieve protection of half of the region in ways that make sense for the West.