Natural & Working Lands

Natural and working lands are areas that provide food, protection, and recreation for communities; these lands include forests, croplands, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, and urban trees and open spaces. These lands also help filter clean air and water, protect against flooding, and store carbon.

This sector’s ability to store carbon is especially important as it is the only sector that removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits (reducing nearly 800 million tons of carbon equivalent per year, according to the World Resources Institute, or the equivalent of one year’s worth of emissions from nearly 160 million cars). States and local communities across the country are working to enhance natural and working lands’ potential for carbon sequestration through a multitude of initiatives, such as forest regeneration, expanding urban green spaces, creating urban growth boundaries, and creating land use plans to preserve existing agriculture and rangelands.

While there is great potential in this sector, increasing occurrences of wildfires and extreme storms along with expanding land development threaten the ability of these lands to sequester carbon. Because 70 percent of land in the United States is privately owned, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working with landowners is fundamental to protecting natural and working lands.

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