If Healthy, Mountain Meadows Can Be Big Carbon Sinks, Study Shows

Nov 13, 2020
Originally published on November 13, 2020 1:48 pm

Researchers have found that it’s not just forests on the landscape that can help mitigate climate change. Meadows also provide an efficient way to keep carbon out of the atmosphere.

Cody Reed is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno and the lead author of a new study published last week in the journal Ecosystems. She says these unassuming ecological places can do a lot to help fight climate change – but they have to be healthy.

“Healthy meadows that were sequestering carbon removed as much carbon from the atmosphere per acre every year as tropical rainforests,” she said.

On the flip side, Reed says, unhealthy, degraded meadows can actually release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. That means cleaning up and restoring such meadows could be a key component in fighting climate change.

“Restoring one 10-acre meadow could have a much bigger impact than 100 acres of the surrounding forest," she said. “[It] provides a really good bang for our buck as far as restoration dollars go in many ways.”

Reed says the findings from the study, which is based on 13 montane meadows spanning the California Sierra Nevada, can be applied across the Mountain West, though she cautions that more research needs to be done.

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