Minnesota forests, peatlands on list of 'irrecoverable carbon'

Red Lake peatland
Peatlands, like this area near Red Lake, cover more than 10 percent of Minnesota, or 8,000 square miles.
Photo by Eville Gorham

The forests we love here in Minnesota — and around the globe — are critical to reaching our climate goals. They store massive amounts of carbon that could escape into the atmosphere if they’re lost to things like farming or wildfires.

“A forest will regrow and sequester carbon. However, if it’s an old-growth forest, or if you drain a peatland, that took thousands of years to capture and store carbon in that soil,” said Monica Noon, a geographic information science manager for Conservation International. “So we know that a lot of the carbon would not be sequestered.”

Noon led a recent study that mapped these critical areas of “irrecoverable carbon.” It found that protecting an additional 5.4 percent of Earth’s land from development would secure a majority of this carbon.

For more, listen to Noon on this week’s Climate Cast using the audio player above, or subscribe to the podcast.

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