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Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge results are in!

A boy measures the diameter of a young locust tree.
Young and old got involved, like this young man measuring the diameter of a young locust tree.

Minnesotans recently measured trees in the Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge. The goal? To find the tree and woodland in Minnesota that sequestered the most carbon!

Participants measured trees in May 2020 at the beginning of the growing season. Then at the end of the growing season in September, participants measured the same tree again to determine how much they grew. The participants shared their data with UMN Extension and the amount of carbon in their trees was calculated.

This family-friendly and close-to-home activity allowed participants to learn more about the value of trees in the carbon cycle.

Trees have mostly stopped growing for the year, and the results are in! There were 20 entries in the Single Tree Category and 5 in the Woodland Category. And now for the winners!

Woman standing by a white oak tree along a river.
The carbon capture challenge got people out in nature to measure trees.

Single Tree category

The tree that sequestered the most carbon was a silver maple in Ramsey County submitted by Girth Getters. This tree stores nearly 5,000 pounds of carbon and is 27.9 inches in diameter at breast height. In the growing season, it sequestered 846 pounds of carbon. This amount is equivalent to:

  • The greenhouse gas emissions from 3,491 miles driven by a typical passenger vehicle.
  • The CO2 emissions from 158 gallons of gasoline.
  • And the CO2 emissions from charging 179,000 smartphones.

Woodland category

A woman measures the diameter of a spruce tree.
Measuring a spruce tree

The woodland that sequestered the most carbon was a woodland in Hubbard County submitted by Team Trillium. This woodland has a diversity of species, including aspen, basswood, sugar maple, and bur oak.

In May, this woodland stored 35.9 tons of carbon per acre. By September, it sequestered an additional 1.3 tons of carbon per acre. This amount is equivalent to:

  • The greenhouse gas emissions from 10,730 miles driven by a typical passenger vehicle.
  • The CO2 emissions from 487 gallons of gasoline.
  • And the CO2 emissions from charging 551,000 smartphones.

The full results from the competition can be found below. As a prize, each of the winning teams will receive a cribbage board made from reclaimed urban wood.

Congrats to the winners and their trees!

Single Tree category

Results of the Minnesota Carbon Capture Challenge
Place Team name County Species Tree diameter (inches) Carbon stored in tree (pounds) Carbon sequestered this year (pounds)
1 Girth Getters Ramsey Sugar maple 27.9 4,694 846
2 Green Air Ramsey Silver Maple 59.2 29,425 779
3 Izzy's  Inches Steele Elm 46.5 10,683 272
4 Tree Detective Denise Becker Maple 19.0 1,847 206
5 Gupta Gang Olmsted Silver maple 15.1 1,056 193
6 Cul-de-sac Carbon Eaters Dakota Tilia x europaea (linden) 20.6 1,713 141
7 Gustafson's Carbon Farm Wright Green ash 24 2,503 128
8 Team Trillium Hubbard White pine 28.4 2,921 99
9 Silverlicious Ramsey Silver Maple 11.3 518 97
10 Tree Guyz Saint Louis White spruce 11.8 380 96
11 Wabedo Woods Cass White oak 15.0 1,045 90
12 Webster Tree Frogs 2 Rice White oak 12.6 679 85
13 Drimels Brush up on Hardwoods (DBH) Washington White oak 33.2 7,185 53
14 Webster Tree Frogs 1 Rice Sugar maple 15.4 1,107 51
15 TheBeesHive Ramsey Bur oak 29.1 5,213 44
16 Duluth Lakeside St. Louis Quaking aspen 10.7 320 11
17 Team Tamarack Hennepin Tamarack 7.4 110 8
18 Strauss Haus Olmsted White pine 3.4 17 6
19 Henry's Tree Steele Skyline locust 3.0 14 2
20 Rex's Team Hennepin Silver maple 34.1 7,668 0

Woodland category

Results of the Minnesota Carbon Capture Challenge
Place Team name Species Carbon in woods (tons per acre) Carbon sequestered this year (tons per acre)
1 Team Trillium Quaking aspen, basswood, bur oak, sugar maple 37.2 1.33
2 Perry Pines Red pine 22.5 1.09
3 Awesome Aspen Quaking aspen, balsam fir 8.5 0.41
4 Webster Tree Frogs Northern red oak 3.0 0.39
5 Westwood Farm Red pine 17.0 0.35

Matt Russell, Extension forest resources specialist

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