Document Type



USU extension sustainability

Publication Date



Terrestrial carbon sequestration is the process through which carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is absorbed by trees, plants and crops through photosynthesis, and stored as carbon in biomass (tree trunks, branches, grasses, foliage, and roots) and soils1. Terrestrial carbon sequestration can contribute to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions and mitigating climate change.

Over 30% (770 million acres) of U.S. land cover is rangelands, yet in Utah, roughly 80 percent of land cover is rangelands2. Rangelands can be managed to increase soil carbon storage through more equitable distribution of grazing pressure over time and space to reduce forage plant defoliation and increase carbon inputs from standing plants to soils3. The overall ability of rangelands to sequester carbon depends on plant species, soil type, regional climate, topography, and management practice.

Even though the per acre carbon sequestration potential of rangelands may be less than that of either forestlands or croplands, the large size of rangelands in Utah and the U.S. suggests a great overall carbon sequestration potential, particularly in below-ground biomass and soils4,5. What does this mean and what role can rangeland owners play in carbon sequestration?