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Sunrise over a cover cropped farm field.
Regenerative Ag Sunrise over a cover cropped farm field in Minnesota. © Jason Whalen/Fauna Creative

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Statement: Minnesota must leverage natural and working lands to achieve bold climate action

The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota commends Gov. Tim Walz and his administration for developing a draft climate action framework, “Conversations and Ideas Lead to Bold Action,” and recently submitted formal comments emphasizing the important role of natural and working lands. As the Administration refines Minnesota’s strategy for tackling climate change, state leaders should commit to supporting nature-based climate solutions that are rooted in the best available science. 

Our scientists recommend setting goals for natural and working lands that increase carbon sequestration, enhance biological diversity and protect habitat corridors, and help communities adapt to the changing climate.

Chapter Director, TNC in Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota

In its feedback to the Walz administration, The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota proposes increasing the specificity, setting even more ambitious goals tied to natural and working lands, and suggests adding a third goal to address the human impacts of climate change:

  1. Increase carbon sequestered on natural and working lands by a quantifiable five million metric tons (MMT) CO2e per year by 2030, and 10 MMT per year by 2040. Annual sequestration of 10 MMT CO2e would be equivalent to removing yearly emissions from 2.2 million cars.
    • Suggested strategies include reforesting one million acres of forest land by 2040 and rapidly expanding soil health practices across the state.
  2. Enhance biological diversity and protect habitat corridors on at least one million acres of wetlands, peatlands and grasslands by 2040.
    • Includes efforts to strengthen management and restoration on existing state land while protecting critical habitat—for instance, by fully executing the Minnesota Prairie Plan by its 2035 deadline.
  3. Implement nature-based adaptation strategies to leverage nature’s ability to make all Minnesotans more resilient to climate change by 2035.
    • Increase financial and technical support for urban green infrastructure, climate-resilient farmland and other strategies to assist in climate adaptation.

Commenting on the state’s draft climate action framework, Ann Mulholland, director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change, said:  

“The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota is encouraged by the breadth of strategies outlined in the Walz administration’s climate action framework. Given the scale of the climate crisis, it is critical for the state to be as ambitious and specific as possible in developing its climate action plan. By leveraging the power of natural and working lands, nature-based climate solutions can mitigate 15 percent of our state emissions—and do so in a cost-effective way. 

“Minnesota must strengthen land management strategies on public and private land without compromising biodiversity. Our scientists recommend setting goals for natural and working lands that increase carbon sequestration, enhance biological diversity and protect habitat corridors, and help communities adapt to the changing climate.

“Climate change is already affecting Minnesota communities, and the continued impacts of climate change will lead to more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. To meet the urgency of the crisis, state leaders must enact a plan to tackle climate change using an ‘all-of-the-above' approach that reduces emissions while increasing carbon sequestration. Lawmakers will have an opportunity during the upcoming legislative session to make significant investments in nature as a climate change solution.

“The Nature Conservancy is committed to deploying innovative solutions that maximize nature’s ability to fight climate change while bolstering resilience for our most precious ecosystems and vulnerable communities. We appreciate Gov. Walz’s intention to address climate change and we urge state leaders to invest in nature-based solutions that will make our land, water and people more resilient to climate change.”

To request a copy of The Nature Conservancy’s written comments on the draft climate action framework, please contact Sachi Graber (sachiko.graber@tnc.org). 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.