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The Minnesota Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge

The Minnesota Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge is a friendly competition for Minnesotans to learn about the role of trees as a natural climate solution.

Participants will take measurements at the beginning and end of the 2021 growing season to determine how much carbon their trees capture from the atmosphere. This is a family-friendly activity to help explore your woods.

Trees and climate change

Trees are a natural climate solution, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it as wood. This means that healthy growing trees increase carbon sequestration and help offset greenhouse gas emissions. 

According to recent estimates in the United States, forests remove about 11% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the atmosphere. This is a motivation for keeping healthy trees and forests on the landscape.

Minnesota woodland owners own 40% of the state’s forests or about 6.8 million acres. The American Forest Foundation estimates that across all forest ownerships, private woodland owners have the greatest opportunity to mitigate the effects of future climate change through storing and sequestering carbon in their trees and woodlands.

In Minnesota, this is especially true. Our diverse forests from the North Woods in northern Minnesota to the Blufflands in southeastern Minnesota present a rich opportunity to contribute to natural climate solutions.

Rules

There are two categories in the Minnesota Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge: Single Trees and Woodlands. You can enter one or both categories. There is only one entry allowed per team per category.

For both categories you need to measure the same tree(s) at two points in the growing season:

  • Measure at the start of the growing season. Measurements will not be accepted after May 31, 2021.
  • Measure at the end of the growing season. Measurements will not be accepted after October 1, 2021.
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Timeline

Whether you choose the Single Tree or the Woodland category:

  • Complete your pre-growing season measurements before May 31, 2021.
    • Before the end of May 2020, Extension forestry specialist Matt Russell will email you an estimate of how much carbon is stored in your tree or woodland.
  • Complete your after-growing season measurements before October 1, 2021.
    • After all measurements are collected, Extension forestry specialist Matt Russell will email you an estimate of how much carbon your tree or woodland sequestered throughout the growing season.
  • Winners of the Minnesota Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge will be announced in the October 2021 My Minnesota Woods newsletter. (Winners will be notified in advance).

Win a prize!

The team that sequesters the most carbon will win a cribbage board made from reclaimed urban wood. One cribbage board will go to the winner of the single tree category and one to the winner of the woodland category.

Previous winners

Last year, the tree that sequestered the most carbon was a silver maple in Ramsey County. This tree stored nearly 5,000 pounds of carbon and was 27.9 inches in diameter at chest height.

The woodland that sequestered the most carbon was located in Hubbard County. This woodland had a diversity of species, including aspen, basswood, sugar maple and bur oak. It stored 35.9 tons of carbon per acre and sequestered an additional 1.3 tons of carbon per acre during the growing season.

Submit an entry

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