Developing a Framework for Valuing Carbon Sequestration in San Diego’s Natural Lands

Natural lands in San Diego County

Project Purpose

California’s  climate policy portfolio includes a robust greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy. Nature-based solutions targeting carbon sequestration through the protection and management of natural and working lands have been identified as a priority for this strategy. As such, we are focusing specifically on understanding how the restoration of natural and working lands, which make up nearly half of the land area in San Diego County, can effectively be used as a method for reaching GHG reduction goals.

Project Background

Curbing climate warming and mitigating the accompanying impacts of increasing climate
variability require a reduction of GHGs in our atmosphere, particularly carbon

To move towards carbon neutrality, California’s legislature has enacted a series of bills and a series of California Climate Change Executive Orders have been signed by the Governor of California beginning in 2004. Together, they’ve established a set of progressive new emissions targets for the state.

Early planning to reduce GHG emissions was primarily focused on the human environment. However, there is a parallel need to develop and implement strategies that protect and enhance existing carbon stocks in natural landscapes to remove additional carbon from the atmosphere.

Map of six broad vegetation categories assessed for carbon storage and sequestration values in the San Diego region.
Map of six broad vegetation categories assessed for carbon storage and sequestration values in the San Diego region.

Project Goals

In our effort to develop a framework for carbon sequestration in San Diego County, IEMM has collaborates on multiple ongoing projects, including:

  • an assessment of available information on sequestration rates for the vegetation communities in the region
  • the Connecting Wildlands and Communities (CWC) project, which was initiated to explore the multiple benefits of integrating natural land conservation considerations into land-use planning to reduce climate impacts and enhance community and ecosystem resilience
  • integration of the information we learn from our carbon sequestration assessment and CWC’s ongoing efforts to enhance our understanding of chaparral carbon dynamics to inform land-use planning or consideration of carbon offsets

Explore our Connecting Wildlands and Communities data portal to learn more about climate, water sustainability, wildfire risk, and biodiversity and conservation.

Our project partners

San Diego Foundation logo
UC Davis logo
USFS logo