Land as a natural climate solution

Estimating the global potential for increasing carbon storage on land.

Team Collaborators

To address the climate crisis, we must take urgent action to reduce anthropogenic emissions while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Land management has the potential to do both, but to realize this potential we must understand how much storage space is available, where that space is located, and what actions can be taken in those places to capitalize on these natural climate solutions as soon as possible.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Working Group III highlights the significant mitigation potential of natural and managed ecosystems given the opportunity they offer to remove additional carbon from the atmosphere. Many countries are expected to count heavily on natural climate solutions when designing strategies for delivering on their commitments to climate change mitigation under the Paris Agreement.

Our Work

  • We produced a first-of-its-kind globally consistent spatial dataset (~500m resolution) of current, potential, and unrealized potential carbon storage in forest and and other woody ecosystems and their associated soils.
  • We also created a framework for prioritizing on-the-ground actions related to the restoration, improved management, and maintenance of carbon stocks in these systems.


Data produced as part of this project should prove valuable for national and jurisdictional prioritization of actions and locations to increase land-based carbon storage and realize meaningful near-term climate benefits.

Research area

Selected Related Publications

The global potential for increased storage of carbon on land

Walker, W.S., S.R. Gorelik, S.C. Cook-Patton, A. Baccini, M.K. Farina, K.K. Solvik, P.W. Ellis, J. Sanderman, R.A. Houghton, S.M. Leavitt, C.R. Schwalm, B.W. Griscom (2022). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Community Managed Protected Areas Conserve Aboveground Carbon Stocks: Implications for REDD+

Alejo, C., W.S. Walker, S.R. Gorelik, C. Potvin (2022). Frontiers in Forests and Global Change