Climate Change Mitigation on Natural and Working Lands

California’s natural and working lands encompass a range of land types and uses from farms and ranches to forests, grasslands, deserts, wetlands, riparian areas, and urban green space. Although these lands can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their vegetation and soils, disturbances such as severe wildfire, land degradation, and conversion can cause these landscapes to emit more carbon dioxide than they sequester. The Natural Resources Agency and its sister agencies implement programs and policies to mitigate disturbances on natural and working lands and enhance their resilience so they can sequester carbon and provide vital health, social, economic, and environmental benefits.

State-led restoration, conservation, and management activities aim to achieve the State’s vision for the Natural and Working Lands sector to:

  1. Protect land from conversion to more emissions-intensive uses through conservation and planning;
  2. Enhance the resilience of and potential for carbon sequestration through management and restoration and reduce GHG and black carbon emissions from wildfire and management activities; and
  3. Innovate biomass utilization from forestry and agricultural activities so that harvested wood and excess agricultural and forest biomass can be used to advance statewide objectives for renewable energy and fuels, wood product manufacturing, agricultural markets, soil health, and rural economic development.

California’s 2030 Natural and Working Lands Climate Goal and Implementation Plan

Adoption of the 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update commits the State to finalizing a carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reduction goal for natural and working lands by September 2018. The 2030 Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan will describe this GHG goal and provide a blueprint to achieve it by building capacity through state-funded conservation, restoration, and management activities. California will use an “all lands” approach to sequester carbon and reduce GHGs on natural and working lands that encompasses conservation, improved management, and restoration of wildland and urban forests, farms and ranches, grasslands, coasts, and wetlands. By November 2018, California will release a final Implementation Plan to outlines the extent of restoration, conservation, and management activities needed to meet identified climate change goals.

NEW Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan Concept Paper

A Concept Paper for the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan was released in May 2018 and is available here, and on the California Air Resources Board’s Natural and Working Lands webpage. The Concept Paper provides a proposed outline for the California Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan with the aim of gathering feedback and discussion from the public to inform the final Plan. It describes:

  1. The directive to create an Implementation Plan as outlined in the 2017 Scoping Plan Update: The strategy for achieving California’s 2030 greenhouse gas target;
  2. The scope of the Implementation Plan;
  3. The tools to be used for setting a 2030 GHG reduction goal;
  4. The framework and process for developing, implementing, and tracking progress on the Implementation Plan and its associated goals; and
  5. The proposed conservation, restoration, and management activities that will be employed through state-funded investments to sequester carbon on natural and working lands, and the California Department of Agriculture, California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Natural Resources Agency programs that may contribute to these activities by 2030.

Comments on the Concept Paper can be submitted here through June 15, 2018.

Investments in Natural and Working Lands

California has made significant investments in programs that fund climate benefits on natural and working lands. These programs fund conservation easements on forests, farms and ranches; wetland restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and along the coast; meadow restoration in the Sierra foothills; active forest management to restore forest health and mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfire; agricultural practices to increase soil carbon; and urban forestry and greening. In addition to protecting lands, removing GHGs from the atmosphere, and sequestering carbon, these programs restore lands that have been degraded by fragmentation, over-grazing, topsoil loss, severe forest fires, and other disturbances; create new green space in cities; keep farmland in production; and help ecosystems adapt to a changing climate.

Investments include more than $600 million of Cap-and-Trade dollars that have been leveraged for natural and working lands strategies to date across programs including:

Information on all awards to date can be found at the California Climate Investments portal.

Tools and Research

Ongoing research across state agencies advances our understanding of climate mitigation on natural and working lands and carbon dynamics in California, including the following initiatives:

  • California Natural and Working Lands Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Model (CALAND): Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is working with CNRA and other agencies to develop CALAND, a model that will project the carbon benefits of different scenarios for state-funded conservation, restoration, and management activities through 2030. Version 3 of the model will be finalized in July 2018 in support of the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan and will estimate expected benefits from programs at CNRA and its board, departments, and conservancies. Since the end of 2017, CNRA has convened a Technical Advisory Committee, including state agency and public members, to provide input to Berkeley Labs on data and methods to consider for use in CALAND. The Technical Documentation for CALAND Version 2, which was developed from December 2016-October 2017, is available here. A tentative Natural and Working Lands Plan and CALAND model timeline is available here.
  • Natural and Working Lands Inventory: The California Air Resources Board has worked extensively with other state agencies, academic researchers and the public to develop a Natural and Working Lands inventorythat will guide understanding of how carbon is released and sequestered by natural and working landscapes. CARB is updating the forest component of the Natural and Working Lands inventory to include 2012 GHG emissions estimates and emissions estimates for soil carbon, urban forestry, and croplands in 2018.
  • California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment: California’s state-led climate change research portfolio includes many projects related to natural and working lands, including research on strategies for increasing soil carbon, restoring resilience in overstocked forests, and using green infrastructure to enhance coastal resilience. It will be released in summer 2018.

Upcoming Events

NOTICE: Public Workshop for the California Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, and Strategic Growth Council are jointly hosting a public workshop to discuss and solicit input on the development of the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan (Implementation Plan) and associated 2030 intervention-based goal for carbon sequestration.

DATE & TIME: Friday, May 18, 2018; 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm

LOCATION: Rosenfeld Hearing Room, California Energy Commission (first floor), 1516 9th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

REMOTE ACCESS: A live webcast of the workshop will be available at:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4941374970534970371

Workshop Documents:

June Regional Meetings on Targets for Conservation, Restoration, and Management on Natural and Working Lands for the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan

CNRA is planning a stakeholder outreach effort throughout the month of June to solicit feedback on acreage targets for conservation activities on natural and working lands that will be listed in the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan. This process will seek to engage practitioners, Resource Conservation Districts, land trusts, NGOs, nonprofits, and local, regional, and tribal governments through regional meetings and additional conversations.

Please check back for future developments, and direct any questions or comments to climate@resources.ca.gov.


Past Events

January 17, 2018: California Natural and Working Lands Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Model (CALAND) Development Webinars on Agricultural and Cultivated Lands and Forests

Webinar Materials:

  • CALAND Question and Answer Topics: This sheet summarizes questions on the CALAND model received from public comments and State agencies. It proposes how Berkeley Lab and the CALAND Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will follow up with model development in each topic area.
  • Agenda – Agricultural Lands webinar
  • Agenda – Forest lands webinar

Audio Recordings

Agricultural lands webinar recording | Forest Lands webinar recording

Background: The California Natural Resources Agency will be hosting two public webinars on CALAND model development: one on Agricultural and Cultivated Lands and the other on Forests. Current progress on the model and next steps for model refinement in these areas will be discussed. The webinars will cover topics and model elements that received significant public comments following the Oct. 13, 2017, public workshop on the Proposed Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan and CALAND Model Development, including topics that the Technical Advisory Committee has deliberated to-date.

October 13, 2017: Public Workshop on the Proposed Natural and Working Lands Climate Change Implementation Plan and CALAND Model Development

Workshop Materials:

Background: The California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture, and California Air Resources Board are jointly hosting a public workshop to present next steps on the Natural and Working Lands Implementation Plan that was proposed in the Draft 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan Update (January 2017) and to present Version 2 of the California Natural and Working Lands Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Model (CALAND) and next steps for model refinement and use. The workshop will include a moderated discussion to gather stakeholder input on the methods and scope of CALAND. In addition, the CALAND Steering Committee seeks participation from expert members of the public to inform development through participation in the CALAND Technical Committee.

December 14, 2016: Public Workshop on Carbon Sequestration Modeling Methods and Initial Results for the Natural & Working Lands Sector in the 2030 Target Scoping Plan

 November 7, 2016: Public Workshop on the 2030 Target Scoping Plan Update: GHG Policy Scenarios, Natural & Working Lands, and Public Health Analysis

March 23, 2016: Public Workshop on the Natural and Working Lands Sector to Inform Development of the 2030 Target Scoping Plan Update


Links

Forests:

Land Conservation and Restoration:

Coastal restoration:

Urban Forests and Urban Greening: