Our protected areas store over 3.4 billion tons of carbon

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Protecting key carbon reserves

In total, our protected reserves store 3.4 billion tons of carbon.

Trees are about half carbon. When forests are cut down, their decomposition sends carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2, exacerbating climate change.

9.3 million acres of tropical primary rainforest were lost globally in 2021. That’s about twelve times the size of Yosemite National Park.

In order to keep the rise of average global temperatures at or below 1.5℃, we must cut deforestation by 75% by 2030.

Deforestation and climate change

Deforestation creates two separate problems for our climate – the carbon stored in a tree’s roots, trunk, and branches is released when a tree is cut down, and that tree’s ability to continue to sequester, or pull and store additional carbon from the air, is also cut short.

Tropical forests store the most carbon, but are being deforested faster than all other types of ecosystems. 

When forests are protected, their carbon is safely stored for millennia. This is especially true for large, intact forests as they store 3 times the carbon of fragmented forests. By some estimates, an individual tree is able to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 on average per year from the air.

Global carbon stocks by ecosystems:

EcosystemEstimated Carbon Stock (tons)Annual Deforestation Rate
Tropical moist forests295 billion tons0.45%
Boreal forests283 billion tons0.18%
Temperate broadleaf forests133 billion tons0.35%
Temperate conifer forests66 billion tons0.28%
Tropical dry forests14 billion tons0.58%
*Data from Visual Capitalist/Leaf Corp.
Pastaza Shaur woman, agroecology

Partnering for the planet

Working alongside Indigenous communities to mitigate climate change, their culture and way of life is incorporated into sustainable management of a protected area, helping to safeguard their ecosystem resources for the long term. Indigenous communities are already feeling the effects of climate change. Changes to seasonal rainfall patterns and temperature are affecting crop health and productivity, and communities are facing more frequent and intense natural disasters, such as wildfires, flooding, or drought. 

Read about one example of how we’re partnering to fight climate change in the Ecuadorian Amazon here.

We are committed to amplifying Indigenous voices in climate and continue to support more inclusion at the local and global levels of the climate conversation. Watch our presentation at COP27 in Egypt, with one of our Indigenous partners here.


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To fight climate change, conserve and expand the world’s forests

With help from our donors, Nature & Culture has focused on creating protected areas that store and sequester enormous quantities of carbon. This is a critical and irreplaceable service that forests provide to our planet.

You can protect an acre for as little as $10.

Join us in safeguarding our future.