With the unprecedented National Nature Assessment, the United States is beginning a ground-breaking adventure to protect its natural resources. In a presentation at the Ecological Society of America Conference in Oregon earlier this week, Phil Levin, director of the project and part of the faculty at the University of Washington, effectively summed up the endeavor as a comprehensive effort “to take stock of nature and nature’s benefits.”
The first-ever National Nature Assessment in the US
This study is meant to provide an all-encompassing perspective on biodiversity. It will not only quantify the different fabric of life across the country, but it will also project how this intricate web might shift as a result of climate change. The inclusion of personal stories from communities demonstrating their connection to the environment in the study will develop even more empathy and understanding. This assessment intends to highlight the intrinsic value that the species and environments of the nation offer to our lives.
As Jane Lubchenco, Deputy Director for Climate and Environment in the US, aptly reflects, “While many scientists are well aware that there’s a biodiversity crisis, most of the rest of the world hasn’t really paid attention to that.” The National Nature Assessment seeks to shift this narrative by instilling urgency and community responsibility for maintaining our planet’s biodiversity.
Preserving nature’s wealth for future generations
Aside from its impressive scope, the assessment strives to assign economic, social, and cultural value to the nation’s natural riches. This evaluation goes beyond numbers to convey the deep impact of nature on our lives, from the vast forests that provide solace and enjoyment to the critical role of coral reefs in preserving coasts and maintaining fisheries. This report envisions a peaceful future in which abundant biodiversity is a cornerstone of our shared prosperity by smoothly combining ecological and human-centric principles.
The National Nature Assessment, which is still in its infancy and is expected to be completed in 2026, will serve as a light of hope and a pillar of motivation. Inspired by the National Climate Assessment’s successful methodology, it not only increases awareness but also empowers individuals, communities, and policymakers to chart a collaborative route toward a vibrant and sustainable future.
As Phil Levin underscores, this assessment aspires “to inform policy, but not dictate policy,” heralding an era where we embrace the wisdom of nature to sculpt a more resilient world.