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.

Our protected reserves play a crucial role in carbon storage. As trees contain roughly half of their mass in carbon, the consequences of deforestation are significant. When forests are cleared, the decomposing vegetation releases carbon back into the atmosphere as CO2, further exacerbating climate change.

In 2021, a distressing 9.3 million acres of tropical primary rainforest were lost worldwide, equivalent to approximately twelve times the size of Yosemite National Park.

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

Check out a climate Op-ed written by our CEO, Matt Clark that appeared in Reuters!

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


Indigenous and local people are truly nature’s greatest stewards. As evidenced by UNDP data, deforestation rates in Indigenous territories are about 50% lower.

We are committed to integrating their profound knowledge and sustainable practices into the management of protected areas, thereby ensuring the long-term preservation of these invaluable places.

Indigenous communities are already grappling with the adverse impacts of climate change, experiencing shifts in seasonal rainfall patterns and temperatures, which adversely affect crop health and productivity. Additionally, they are confronting more frequent and severe natural disasters, such as wildfires, flooding, and drought.

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.

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