Climate change mitigation refers to reducing climate change by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing the storage of carbon dioxide in soils, forests, and oceans. The Climate and Farms Under Threat teams at American Farmland Trust are working to estimate the mitigation benefits of conservation easements on agricultural lands that are under threat of development to non-agricultural uses and part of a buffer zone around already developed areas, e.g., “Saving Farmlands, Growing Cities.”
We studied an Illinois farm under an agricultural conservation easement with our partners at The Conservation Fund using modified methodology from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). We estimated that placing the 103-acre Illinois farm under an agricultural conservation easement potentially avoids (mitigates) over 19,000 metric tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e ) in its first 30 years, equivalent to avoiding over 100 railcars’ worth of coal burned. The easement also avoids about 8 t of non-greenhouse gas air pollutant emissions in the same time period. The case study brief and full report are available here. Now, we are developing a calculator for estimating the climate benefits of past and future permanently protected farmland in the contiguous U.S.