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Grasslands Portfolio, USA

By preserving grasslands in Colorado and Montana, these projects lock carbon into the soil and avoid the emissions from conversion to agriculture.

Project overview

  • Region: North America

  • Project type: Forestry and landscapes

  • Standards: CAR

Grasslands are an important, and stable, carbon sink, frequently described as 'upside-down rainforests' because 90% of their biomass is below ground in the long roots of the grass. These projects, developed with organisations such as the Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy, create incentives for preserving this highly valuable below-ground carbon as an alternative to converting the grasslands to agriculture. These areas also provide habitat to many species of flora and fauna such as grizzly bears, grey wolves, badger and swift fox.

Sustainable Development Goals

The projects make a significant contribution to SDG 15 Life on Land, in addition to SDG 13 - Climate Action.

  • In Colorado the land is home to rare, threatened and endangered species including long-horn cattle, rare dwarf milkweed and grizzly bears and grey wolves. Grazing animals such as bison, elk and deer, are used to naturally maintain the health of the rangeland. With no hunting, commerce or recreation on the land, the species are able to naturally thrive.
  • In Montana the Northern Great Plains encompass some of the largest and most significant native grasslands remaining in the United States. These areas support rare and declining species including such as pronghorn, mule deer, badger and swift fox.

Grasslands may be more reliable carbon sinks in areas where the climate is unstable because the carbon stored in root mass is less likely to be released in fire or drought.

University of California Davis - July 2018