Research Library

21 July 2022

2022 NATIONAL LANDMARKS WE NEED TO PROTECT TOOLKIT: Special Places That Need Protection for Latino Conservation Week

Publishers: Hispanic Access Foundation
Author: Hispanic Access Foundation
Topics: Advocacy, Climate Change, Conservation, Public Lands Protection, Public Opinion, Voting
Geographic Focus: National

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Latino Conservation Week is a time to celebrate Latino connections, old and new, to the lands, waterways, and ocean we call home, as well as the air we breathe. Unfortunately, Latinos and other communities of color continue to face the Nature Gap, lacking the benefits that nearby nature brings, and far too few of the protected lands and waters in the US tell Latino histories. For these reasons, this Latino Conservation Week, Hispanic Access Foundation is recommending the designation and protection of new parks, waterways, and ocean and coastal areas throughout the US that will serve Latino and other disinvested communities.

These areas, and many more that are important to local communities, will serve a vital purpose with their protection. Greenery absorbs pollution, cleaning the air, water, and soil around it. Natural spaces also moderate temperatures, keeping hot areas cooler and acting as windbreaks. Roots protect soil from erosion and the threat of mudslides, and healthy soil is better able to absorb stormwater and prevent floods. This adds up to climate resilience: mitigating the extreme heat, droughts, storms, and floods that we are increasingly experiencing with global warming - while also absorbing carbon pollution and slowing further climate change.

It also impacts physical and mental health. Spending time in natural areas, on the coast, and around waterways has well-documented benefits to mental health, from stress reduction to decreases in anxiety and depression. They also boost physical health by making the air cleaner and incentivizing exercise, reducing the risk of lung diseases and COVID-19. Economically, green and blue spaces provide a high return for the investment in tree maintenance and trail creation, as well as lifting the outdoor recreation economy. Children’s education also benefits from access to the outdoors, providing cognitive benefits, reducing stress, and enhancing motor and social skills.

Protecting these areas would provide these benefits and more to local communities and visitors, while becoming jewels in the crown of the America the Beautiful initiative to protect 30% of U.S. lands, waters, and ocean by 2030.

This is also available in Spanish.

Last modified on 21 July 2022

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