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2021 Tree and Woodland Carbon Capture Challenge results

Two participants measuring a tree's diameter.
Two participants measuring a tree's diameter in this year's Carbon Capture Challenge.

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 2021 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.

Now, the results are in! There were eight entries in the Single Tree category and five in the Woodland category. And now for the winners!

Man standing next to a white pine tree.
The Carbon Capture Challenge got people out in nature to measure trees.

Single Tree category

The tree that sequestered the most carbon was an eastern white pine in Itasca County submitted by Team Rommel/Roerick. This tree stores nearly 2,000 pounds of carbon and is 24.0 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 1,622 miles driven by a typical passenger vehicle.
  • The CO2 emissions from 73 gallons of gasoline.
  • And the CO2 emissions from charging 78,000 smartphones.

Woodland category

Missing media item.
A tree's canopy.

The woodland that sequestered the most carbon was a woodland in Houston County submitted by Kara K. This woodland has a diversity of species, including shagbark hickory, bitternut hickory, and hackberry.

In May, this woodland stored 18.4 tons of carbon per acre. By September, it sequestered an additional 3.9 tons of carbon per acre. This carbon sequestration amount is equivalent to:

  • The greenhouse gas emissions from 32,000 miles driven by a typical passenger vehicle.
  • The CO2 emissions from 1,200 gallons of gasoline.
  • And the CO2 emissions from charging 1.5 million 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!

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This year's Carbon Capture Challenge was sponsored in part through funding from the Minnesota Forest Resources Council.

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 Team Rommel/Roerick Itasca Eastern white pine 24.0 1,939 388
2 Arbor Yard Ramsey Silver Maple 54.3 23,796 319
3 The Property Dakota Bur oak 29.2 5,278 118
4 Tree Lady Washington Eastern white pine 22.1 1,586 86
5 Sylvan Ridge Woodlot St. Croix (WI) Eastern white pine 40.2 6,828 62
6 Roseville Silver Maples Ramsey Silver maple 15.4 1,115 42
7 Grow Team, Grow! Ramsey Sugar maple 8.2 242 10
8 Wabedo Wanderer Cass Bur oak 14.9 1,022 3

Woodland category

Results of the Minnesota Carbon Capture Challenge
Place Team name County Species Carbon in woods (tons per acre) Carbon sequestered this year (tons per acre)
1 Kara K Houston Shagbark and bitternut hickory, hackberry 22.3 3.9
2 Sunrise River Partnership Chisago White oak, eastern white pine 47.9 2.7
3 Westwood Tree Farm Kanabec Red pine 19.2 0.5
4 Sylvan Ridge Woodlot St. Croix (WI) Red pine, eastern white pine 15.0 0.2
5 Norway Guy Pine Red pine 16.5 -5.5

Matt Russell, Extension forest resources specialist

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