Nature Based Solutions

Natural climate solutions promote healthy, thriving communities and ecosystems while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and capturing carbon. These strategies involve actions related to preserving, restoring, and enhancing ecosystems to sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

Soil Health

Carbon Sequestration & Co-Benefits

Conservation-focused practices that improve soil health reduce emissions to the atmosphere and increase carbon sequestration by minimizing soil disturbance while maximizing soil cover, biodiversity, and the presence of living roots. By focusing on soil health as a climate solution, we also gain co-benefits such as reduced soil erosion, improved water infiltration, increased nutrient cycling, decreased money spent on inputs like fertilizer, and more resilient soils over time.

Open Space & Tree Canopy

Carbon Sequestration & Co-Benefits

Healthy forests hold significant potential for carbon sequestration. Trees outside of forests sequester carbon as well, but less so than those within forests. As we strive to reach net zero emissions, increasing or at least maintaining the carbon stocks in our forest and canopy resources will be essential for offsetting emission sources difficult to eliminate entirely. Planting and maintaining native tree species also preserves biodiversity and improves climate resiliency!

Tree canopy is especially critical in areas where populations are most vulnerable to heat waves and high temperatures, which tend to include people with lower incomes, people of color, people with disabilities and people who are 65 and older. Tree planting in underserved areas provides co-benefits such as reducing heat island impacts, storing carbon, and providing habitat for wildlife.

Open Space & Tree Canopy

Leading by Example: Tree Canopy Management

Howard County has already begun work on preserving and growing forest and tree canopy. The updated Forest Conservation Act increased replanting requirements for tree clearing, strengthened protections for “champion” and “specimen” trees, and increased the required maintenance period for Forest Conservation Easements. 

Howard County also manages and promotes a variety of tree planting initiatives and protects existing forests through deer management and invasive species management where possible. Stu­dents Branch­ing Out is a Howard County pro­gram that involves stu­dents in tree plant­ing projects. Visit the Stu­dents Branch­ing Out web­page to find out more.

Land Use Best Practices

Private Landscapes

Seventy-three percent (73%) of land in Howard County is owned privately. Therefore, it is critical to help homeowners and other private landowners replace turf with trees and perennial plants. Unfortunately, the social norm is to have overly manicured grass lawns in many residential and commercial properties – and even in our parks. This causes emissions from lawn-mowing in addition to reducing the carbon storage capacity of soils. 

However, studies have found that it only takes 25% of people in a group to adopt a new social norm to create a tipping point where the entire group follows suit. This makes it even more critical for climate activists to adopt these land practices publicly and prominently.

What You Can Do

Sequester Carbon with Trees, Plants and Healthy Soils

Call to Action: Plant more trees and native plant gardens. Work within neighborhoods to reach the tipping point to change social norms from turf grass to beautiful native plant meadows and gardens. Use signage, conversations, and other means to share information about these practices.

Learn more about safe, effective, and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities.
Reserve, pick up, and plant native trees. Visit the Recreation and Parks Forestry page and scroll down to Annual Tree Giveaway for more details!
Learn about pollinators and what you can do at home to support them.