A woman stands in the forest, looking up at the trees.
A Natural Solution: Forests like this one in Northampton, MA, hold significant carbon storage potential. © Lauren Owens Lambert

Stories in Massachusetts

Using Nature to Reduce Carbon Pollution

Q&A with Laura Marx, Forest Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

As a member of TNC’s Landscape Conservation team in Massachusetts, Laura Marx is working to amplify strategies that keep carbon pollution out of the air by storing it in trees, plants and soils. We sat down with her to discuss why these natural climate solutions are an important strategy for mitigating climate change in Massachusetts and beyond.

What are natural climate solutions?

Natural climate solutions are ways to use forests, wetlands and farms to pull carbon pollution from the air. Protecting, restoring and effectively managing these landscapes safeguards the large amounts of carbon they store, while also providing clean water and air, healthier soil and wildlife habitat. Natural climate solutions are a key part of The Nature Conservancy’s strategy for tackling climate change, but we also need to greatly reduce fossil fuel use and adapt to the changes we are already seeing to ensure a world where people and nature can thrive together.

How do we know that natural climate solutions can help us meet the emissions reduction targets needed to address climate change?

In 2018, TNC scientists and research partners authored a study defining 21 different natural climate solutions—from restoring forests and coastal wetlands to adjusting farming practices and grassland management—which can increase carbon storage and keep greenhouse gas pollution out of the air. Implementing all 21 pathways has the potential to offset more than one-fifth of annual emissions in the United States.

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What steps are TNC and Massachusetts taking to use natural climate solutions?

As a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance—a group of states and cities that have pledged to meet Paris Agreement emissions targets—Massachusetts has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from lands and increase the size of carbon sinks. One of the best ways to do this is to protect forests and wetlands, since clearing and developing these lands both releases the carbon they store and destroys their ability to continually remove carbon from the air. In addition to land protection, TNC in Massachusetts is advocating for policies that boost tree planting in cities, help farmers increase soil carbon, and make natural climate solutions easier and more cost effective for people to implement.