An Official Vermont Government Website

Vermont State Logo

Carbon Sequestration and Storage

Vermont's natural and working lands and waters are our greatest asset in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Natural climate solutions are conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in landscapes and wetlands across the globe. Combined with taking action to reduce our emissions through the preceding strategies and actions, natural climate solutions offer Vermont some of our best options in the response to climate change. These strategies and actions will help us build a more resilient and adaptive Vermont while also helping us sequester and store more carbon.

Vermonters have a critical role to plan in reducing net emissions through enhanced carbon sequestration. Management decisions on our natural and working lands can result in both the reduction of emissions and increased absorption and storage of carbon dioxide (sequestration) from the same unit of land – these management choices also result in net sequestration across forestry, wetlands, and agricultural emissions. Therefore, it is critical that we empower landowners and those within the farm and forest sectors to select the best management decisions to both ensure the continued sequestration and long-term storage of carbon. A critical component of moving into a resilient and adaptive future in the face of our changing climate lies squarely in our ability as a state to empower, embrace, and increase the inherent resilience of our natural and working lands and ecosystems to provide for our shared future.


What is the difference between carbon storage and carbon sequestration?

Carbon Storage - the total amount of carbon contained in a forest or a part of the forest (trees, soil).

Carbon Sequestration - The process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees, grasses, and other plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (trunks, branches, foliage, and roots) and soils. The sink of carbon sequestration in forests and wood products helps to offset sources of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, such as deforestation, forest fires, and fossil fuel emissions.


Ongoing Work

Carbon Budget

As part of the development Vermont’s Initial Climate Action Plan, Vermont developed our first Carbon Budget. Natural and working lands (NWL) in Vermont currently store over 2,000 MMT CO2–e, and sequester carbon at a current annual rate of -2.91 MMT CO2 –e 221. We must act to ensure that we maintain and enhance this sequestration and storage capacity.

Net-Zero Framework

Vermont, along with Maine and Massachusetts, have statutory mandates in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-85% by 2050 below 1990 levels and requirements to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Specifically, VT is required to be cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and be net zero by 2050. Natural and working lands across all three states, including forests and farmland, are an annual source of carbon sequestration and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reductions and midcentury net zero goals. Protecting and managing these lands for long-term resilience is also essential to thriving ecosystems and supports biodiversity habitat, local and regional watersheds, agricultural and forestry systems, and human health and communities. Additionally, healthy forests are essential to the economies of each of these states, and in particular to the resilience of rural communities where forestry or outdoor recreation are the foundation of local economies.