Here’s the deal
Georgia’s natural land sinks -- including 22 million acres of working forests and rich coastal wetlands -- sequester up to 46 Mt of CO2 each year, offsetting about 27% of total emissions in the state. It’s critical to increase the capacity to sequester carbon as the state reduces emissions elsewhere.
How do we get there?
Georgia has 22 million acres of working forests that offset about 8% of the state’s CO2 emissions. Forests sequester carbon in trees, soil, and other vegetation. This solution captures the sequestration potential of planting trees in places that were historically forested or capable of sustaining forests, including degraded agricultural and pasture lands.
Georgia has about 100 miles of coast and coastal wetlands, most owned by federal, state and conservation agencies. We’re also home to the largest amount of tidal wetlands of any state in the U.S. Coastal wetlands, including seagrasses, tidal salt marshes, and freshwater marshes, are effective carbon sinks. These ecosystems sequester carbon in plants and in sediments.
Protection & Management
Almost 60% of land in Georgia consists of temperate forests, and about 150,000 acres are planted with pine seedlings each year. Georgia’s forests are a major source of timber and wood products and as temperate forests, most are sustainably managed by private owners, and can be protected through legal policy as well as via market-driven programs. Restoring and managing temperate-climate forests has many benefits, including carbon sequestration from trees, soil, and other vegetation. Protecting existing forests, including old-growth forests, can reduce deforestation rates and safeguard carbon sinks.
How do we get there?
Afforestation & Silvopasture
Expanding Georgia’s 22 million acres of working forests, which now offset about 8% of the state’s CO2 emissions and sequester one to four tons of carbon per acre, per year in trees, soil, and vegetation by just 3.4%. We can: Expand Afforestation: Planting trees in areas that are no longer forested, and in urban areas. Project Drawdown: Creating new forests where there were none before is the aim of afforestation. Degraded pasture and agricultural lands, or other lands corrupted from uses such as mining, are ripe for strategic planting of trees and perennial biomass. Afforestation can take a variety of forms—from seeding dense plots of diverse indigenous species to introducing a single exotic as a plantation crop, such as the fast-growing Monterey pine, the most widely planted tree in the world. Whatever the structure, afforestation creates a carbon sink, drawing in and holding on to carbon and distributing it into the soil.
Coastal Wetlands Restoration
Georgia has about 100 miles of coast and coastal wetlands, most owned by federal, state and conservation agencies. We’re also home to the largest amount of tidal wetlands of any state in the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. Coastal wetlands, including mangroves, seagrasses, tidal salt marshes, and freshwater marshes, are effective carbon sinks. Because of this abundance and the potential partnerships with our many local coastal wetland experts at universities, state and federal agencies, and NGOs, the conservation of these areas represent an important Drawdown Georgia solution. Project Drawdown: They provide nurseries for fish, feeding grounds for migratory birds, a first line of defense against storm surges and floodwaters, and natural filtration systems that boost water quality and recharge aquifers. Relative to their land area, they also sequester huge amounts of carbon in plants aboveground and in roots and soils below. Coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as tropical forests over the long term, mostly in deep wetland soils. The soil of mangrove forests alone may hold the equivalent of more than two years of global emissions—22 billion tons of carbon, much of which would escape if these ecosystems were lost. Wetlands face a myriad of threats, but thanks to research and advocacy efforts, awareness is growing about the role they play in curbing climate change and coping with its impacts. It is vital to preserve healthy coastal wetlands—keeping a lid on the carbon they contain—while also rehabilitating and restoring those that already have been degraded.
Temperate Forest Stewardship
Almost 60% of land in Georgia consists of temperate forests, and about 150,000 acres are planted in Georgia with pine seedlings each year. Georgia’s forests are a major source of timber and wood products and as temperate forests, most are sustainably managed by private owners, and can be protected through legal policy as well as via market-driven programs. Project Drawdown: While temperate forests are not threatened by the same large-scale deforestation that afflicts the tropics, they continue to be fragmented by development. They also are experiencing hotter and more frequent droughts, longer heat waves, and more severe wildfires, as well as worsening insect and pathogen outbreaks. These disturbances can push temperate forests beyond their capacity for resilience. Restoration efforts will need to continue evolving in response, yet restoration is no replacement for protection.
Here’s where we are
Georgia’s forests are already a large-scale carbon sequestration ecosystem. In fact, more than half of our state’s land is forested. These ecosystems can sequester carbon in trees, soil, and other vegetation. We can increase forest coverage in several ways, including planting trees on degraded agricultural and pasture lands.
Here’s where we are
Stories & Studies
Addressing Rising Sea Levels with a living Shoreline of Oyster shells
An effort to save Georgia’s Tybee Island from sea-level rise is also teaching young people how to take action on climate change in this story from our friends at Yale Climate Connections. Rea
An effort to save Georgia’s Tybee Island from sea-level rise is also teaching young people how to take act
White Oak Pastures Beef Reduces Atmospheric Carbon
Almost everyone these days has been educated that carbon emissions from industrialized beef production are a startlingly large contributor to man-made climate change. Luckily for meat-eaters, sci
Almost everyone these days has been educated that carbon emissions from industrialized beef production are a
Projecting the Future of Georgia's Salt Marshes
Will Georgia's salt marshes one day become mangroves, and how will that impact our shrimping industry? This story from The Brunswick News unpacks what a changing climate means to our carbon sequester
Will Georgia's salt marshes one day become mangroves, and how will that impact our shrimping industry? This
Frequently Asked Questions
Why focus on forests and farms?
Georgia is the number one forestry state in the nation. According to the USDA (2016) 11.1% of the state of Georgia was in croplands in 2012 for a total of about 4.19 million acres. Similarly, 7.3% of the state of Georgia was in pastures in 2012 for a total of about 2.8 million acres. Thus, the total crop and pasturelands in Georgia are approximately 7 million acres.
How do our temperate forests perform as carbon sinks?
Currently Georgia’s temperate forests store about 30 MtCO2e each year in trees & soils. This amount will increase over time as trees continue to grow.
Can you describe our coastal wetlands?
Georgia’s 100 miles of coastline are home to a wide variety of wetland ecosystems, including freshwater tidal and non-tidal wetlands as well as salt marshes, also known as estuarine wetlands. In total, estuarine tidal marshes make up approximately 368,000 acres of land along the Georgia coast.