trees with fall colors near a wetland
Fall Colour Canada's Boreal Forest in Sheridon, Manitoba © Michael Pietrocarlo

Innovating for Climate Change

Natural Climate Solutions

Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought.

In October 2017, scientists from our global affiliate The Nature Conservancy, along with 15 other institutions, released the most comprehensive study to date demonstrating the importance of natural-based solutions in addressing climate change

Cost-effective, Game-changing Offsets

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that greenhouse gas emissions can be cost-effectively reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands, and wetlands to deliver more than a third of the reductions required by 2030 to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. This is equivalent to a complete stop on the burning of oil, worldwide.

11.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year could be offset by natural climate solutions including planting more trees, reforesting degraded forests, engaging in responsible forest management, and improving cropland and peatland management. These natural solutions also provide a range of co-benefits such as conserving freshwater and maintaining species diversity, which support the broader cultural and environmental objectives at the heart of Nature United’s work.

aerial view of a pine forest
Forest in Thelon Aerial view of the Thelon River and forest landscape of Canada's far northern Thelon Game Sanctuary, the largest and most remote game sanctuary in North America. © Ami Vitale

Canada's Role: Boreal Forest Conservation

The study concludes that forest-based strategies around the world (including reforestation, avoided conversion and sustainable management) represent the largest opportunity, potentially removing 7 billion tonnes of CO2e annually by 2030 — equal to taking 1.5 billion gasoline-burning cars off the roads.

Canada’s boreal forest is part of the largest terrestrial carbon storehouse in the world, and our work here carries global implications. Our forest ecologist, Dr. Ronnie Drever, says working with forestry industries on sustainable logging strategies can provide economic benefits while simultaneously fighting climate change.

horizontal infographic about natural climate solutions
Natural Climate Solutions A graph shows the top 10 mitigation pathways with co-benefits. © TNC

Powerful Strategies, Smart Policies

Natural climate solutions are not meant to be used in isolation, however, and instead should be combined with reductions in fossil fuel usage to achieve Paris targets. With UN climate talks in Germany next month, the study hopes to inform government leaders of powerful natural strategies to be implemented in conjunction with policies promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transport. 

Thanks to your support, TNC Canada is working across the boreal forest, in coastal British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories to advance responsible forestry, develop sustainable economies, and support indigenous leadership.

And with your continued support, we will keep working to expand the role of natural climate solutions in providing practical and cost-effective benefits to both nature and people.

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