Stories in Minnesota

Trees. Water. Soil.

Natural Climate Solutions for Our Economy & Environment

Illustration of trees, water, soil and various wildlife.
Trees. Water. Soil. A campaign by The Nature Conservancy. © Artwork by Blackbird Revolt

Human-caused climate change is already having significant impacts on Minnesota’s people and nature, but we can still lead on climate action. And we can do it with carbon-capture technology that already exists and can be deployed now: natural climate solutions.

Nature's Solutions in Minnesota (1:42) As we face the challenges and risks brought on by a changing climate, we often overlook nature’s ability to help us create conditions for life to thrive. Learn about nature’s climate solutions: trees, water and soil.

What are natural climate solutions?

nat·u·ral cli·mate so·lu·tions

/ˈnaCHər(ə)l/   /ˈklīmət/   /səˈlo͞oSHəns/


Conservation, restoration and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

Through simple actions like installing community rain gardens, planting cover crops on farms and changing the way we manage forests, Minnesotans can make a big impact for people and nature.

Our Climate Action Toolkit

  • Trees icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.


    Some of our biggest opportunities to make a difference in Minnesota lie in our forests. Reforestation, improved forest management and planting trees where people live are all practices that can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

  • Water icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.


    As floods become more common and droughts grow more severe, water management is becoming increasingly important. Tactics like rain gardens and retention ponds are essential tools to help Minnesota tackle water management issues in the future.

  • Soil icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.


    Some of our biggest untapped opportunities are in our working lands. Minnesota’s farms and ranches can lead the way with soil health practices that improve yields, water quality and carbon storage.

Meet the MVPs of Natural Carbon Capture

In addition to capturing and storing carbon, nature can make us more resilient to climate change. Explore all of our opportunity areas below.

Nature can offset up to 26 million metric tons of carbon in Minnesota. That's about 15% of our emissions and equivalent to taking 5.6 million cars off the road.
Cover crops could be planted to cover bare soils across 13.6 million acres in Minnesota, which would cut CO2 emissions by up to 6 million metric tons per year.
Protecting and restoring floodplains across 200,000 acres in Minnesota could save us up to $5 in flood damages for every $1 invested.
Reduced tillage (no-till and low-till farming) can cut Minnesota's CO2 emissions by up to 6 million metric tons if implemented at scale across 5.6 million Minnesota acres.
Planting trees in our forests, cities and neighborhoods could cut CO2 emissions by up to 8 million metric tons per year if implemented at scale across 3.6 million acres in Minnesota.
Rain gardens, which are installed/planted to manage stormwater, can filter up to 80% of pollution from rainwater runoff, with the average garden filtering up to 36,000 gallons of water per year.
Minnesotans could protect up to 50,000 acres of existing forests and, in doing so, store up to 50,000 metric tons of CO2 per year.
Protecting and restoring native grasslands across Minnesota’s 200,000 available acres could cut our CO2 emissions by up to 60,000 metric tons per year.
 Restoring and improving the way we manage forests could help us withstand and adapt to climate change if implemented at scale across 4.39 million acres in Minnesota.
Protecting and restoring wetlands in Minnesota could cut up to 1 million metric tons of CO2 per year if implemented at scale across 1.1 million acres.

Climate Insights Delivered to Your Inbox

Whether you’re looking for updates from the Capitol or just want to stay informed about climate change in Minnesota, we’ve got you covered! Sign up below to get more of the news you want.

A restored stream bank made of rocks and plants sits above a stream.
Edge of Field Practices Minnesota farmer Matt Hanson has pursued a number of flood mitigation strategies along the Root’s riverbed. © Uche Iroegbu

  •  Trees icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.

    26 M

    How many metric tons of CO2e we can draw down with nature.

  •  Water icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.

    $31 B

    Annual ecosystem services natural solutions can generate.

  •  Soil icon from the Trees. Water. Soil. logo lockup.


    Jobs created each year by investing in nature at scale.

Invest in Nature's Potential (2:04) Through simple actions, we can harness natural climate solutions to protect our communities, our food systems and our future.

Despite all we know about the potential of natural climate solutions, we still are not employing nature at the pace and scale needed to meet our climate goals.

Two people check on seedlings growing inside a fence.
Growing Seedlings Susan and Ari have built barriers around the gravel beds where they grow seedlings, a protective measure against hungry white-tailed deer. © Uche Iroegbu

It’s Time to Invest in Nature’s Potential

Investing in nature offers inexpensive and proven solutions to make wildlife, people, lands and waters more resilient to climate impacts.

According to scientific research, nature has the power to contribute 30% of the global solution to climate change and to provide more than $30 billion of ecosystem services in Minnesota alone.

A proud farmer shows off his cover crops.
Tom Griebel Minnesota farmer, Tom Griebel, shows off his healthy alfalfa fields. © Uche Iroegbu

Scale Up Climate Solutions

We already have the tools we need to get started; now we need them to be deployed rapidly and across the state.

Ways You Can Help


  • Speak Up for Natural Climate Solutions

    Help us help state lawmakers understand why bold and swift investments in nature are so important. Join us as an advocacy supporter to start receiving action alerts. Speak up for nature.


  • Have a Connected Conversation

    Even though 8 in 10 Americans believe climate change is happening, up from 7 in 10 just two years ago, two-thirds of Americans rarely, if ever, talk about climate change with the people they care about. Explore the Let’s Talk Climate guide.


  • Dig Into the Data

    Get started by reading our 2021 report detailing the potential of natural climate solutions in Minnesota and offering an in-depth look at our many pathways to climate resilience. When you’re done, read the latest economic impact data showing nature’s potential to bolster our state’s economy and Minnesota as a top place to live.


Report: Investments in Nature Pay Off

This new report shows that investing in natural climate solutions at scale would pay for itself eight times over.


Use Your Outside Voice!

Ready to start speaking up? Join our advocacy list to learn about timely opportunities to speak up for natural climate solutions and nature-based adaptation strategies at the state level.