Carbon Sequestration Using Ecological Restoration

TITLE: Platform Amendment – Ecological Restoration

SPONSOR: Youth Caucus

Passed in a vote by a majority of the caucus steering committee on our 12/17/17 conference call.


This proposal expands our Green solutions to also include carbon sequestration not simply reduction efforts.


Section being addressed:

IV. Ecological Sustainability
A. Climate Change
Green Solutions

Proposed addition:

7. Carbon Sequestration Using Ecological Restoration

To stabilize the climate, limiting emissions is not enough; carbon must be removed from the atmosphere and sequestered in the ground. Ecological restoration is a valuable tool to achieve this and it will increase the quality of living for all. When forests, grasslands, and farmlands are restored, they act as carbon sinks and improve the health of the soil.

Greens support creating a federal program under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for carbon sequestration to fund local public initiatives that:

1. Plant trees, reforest and afforest[1] public lands[2][3]
1. Revegetate grasslands with native species to prevent desertification and improve climate resilience[4]
2. Encourage the use of regenerative agricultural techniques[5][6]
3. Restore ecosystems on privately-owned lands by providing incentives to landowners




1. “Although forests alone can’t sequester all of the excess carbon added by burning fossil fuels, they can make a difference, especially if we help and encourage them. Wisely managed forests can sequester carbon and also provide a sustainable source of fuel and lumber, help clean our air and water, preserve wildlife habitat, provide recreation opportunities and preserve the beauty of trees in their natural home for generations to come.”


1. “Economic studies have demonstrated that agricultural landowners could mitigate significant quantities of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through afforestation.”


1. “Grazing management can be improved to reverse grazing practices that continually remove a very large proportion of aboveground biomass. Implementing a grazing management system that maximizes production, rather than offtake, can increase carbon inputs and sequester carbon. 2. Sowing improved species can lead to increased production through species that are better adapted to local climate, more resilient to grazing, more resistant to drought and able to enhance soil fertility (i.e. N-fixing crops). Enhancing production leads to greater carbon inputs and carbon sequestration. 3. Direct inputs of water, fertilizer or organic matter can enhance water and N balances, increasing plant productivity and carbon inputs, potentially sequestering carbon. Inputs of water, N and organic matter all tend to require energy and can each enhance fluxes of N2 O, which are likely to offset carbon sequestration gains. 4. Restoring degraded lands enhances production in areas with low productivity, increasing carbon inputs and sequestering carbon.” — page 24



Contact Information:
Advyth Ramachandran –
Michael Dennis –, 717-873-0588

19 thoughts on “Carbon Sequestration Using Ecological Restoration”

  1. The proposed addition is direct, and specific in policy undertakings that have been and can be tested further.

  2. I would hope that the youth caucus, who has felt to be a disempowered group in the green party, would be able to empathize with those animals who are being exploited.
    I am not in support of this plank as it encourages speciesism.

    1. I agree with Peggy. I oppose the commodification and exploitation of our fellow earthlings simply because they are of other species. I am against supremacism and speciesism. I am for non violence.
      The very nature of “exceptionalism” and “that which is different than I is lesser” is a root to subjugation and oppression.

      While any number of species have been subsistence hunters out of biological or bioregional necessity, the breeding and cultivation and, therefore, exploitation of non human species when there are other means of sustenance should not be considered ethical.

  3. I agree with Elie. Kudos to the Youth Caucus for an excellent platform proposal with real solutions. I don’t see how anyone could think that this proposal encourages speciesism. I would also love to see massive public investment in localizing agriculture to provide communities with food security which they currently do not have. It could be for securing the commons as well as a huge local jobs program to get it happening. Intensive organic food production uses less water and sequesters carbon. (much less commuting and food shipping as well) Our monetary plank will guarantee that we have the money to do it.

    1. My understanding is that “regenerative agricultural techniques” includes livestock grazing and also footnote #4 specifies grazing management. Using non-human animals for the betterment of human animals is speciesism. There are many “isms” that we are against such as sexism and racism; This is just one more “ism” we Greens should be working to destroy.

      If the Youth Caucus could clarify that livestock grazing is not desired, then I would reconsider supporting this plank.

      1. This is why we shouldn’t be looking at things as unconnected to everything. We have animals being mistreated by being held in CAFOS when the planet needs them to be out grazing, whether anyone is eating any of them or not, here, is not the issue. They evolved grazing, they have a long evolutionary connection to that upon which they graze, it is important to let them graze. Regenerative agriculture is more than just that, of course, it is the principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem health. It is the ‘giving back’ this civilization has ignored for so long, giving back to the soil from which we’ve taken so much. It includes the bio-char techniques Eric mentions that native people’s used to create the Terra Preta soils, it includes keyline plowing and adding soil biology that can be grown with proper composting tech and much more.

  4. I do not see speciesism as in issue in the language proposed by the Youth Caucus (which I support), but only in the references used. The specter of speciesism is raised only if one assumes that the landscapes here defined as “grazing land” or “rangeland” can only justify themselves economically to human owners or managers by the sale and slaughter of those grazing thereon. It should be hoped that the creation of an alternate income stream based on the public benefit of habitat, healthy soil, and climate healing through carbon drawdown would remove economic dependency on such sale and slaughter. I am grateful to the Youth Caucus for affirming the importance of grassland soils as well as forests in providing needed sequestration. Here in California, the research of Marcia S. DeLonge, Rebecca Ryals, and Whendee L. Silver have affirmed the power of grassland soils to combat climate change when cared for in ways that maximize drawdown and sequestration. Humble attention to the soil is a critical and defining human responsibility; the word “human” shares a common root with “humble” and “humus,” and we are at our most human when we affirm our connection with, and responsibility for, healthy soil.

    In places where climate change has already led to tree mortality, the use of the dead trees as feedstock for biochar returned to the local soil should be researched for its compatibility with restoring and maintaining the original habitat, given the virtues of this technique in increasing the carbon-holding capacity, as well as the moisture-holding capacity of the soil.

    I do support reforestation as vastly preferable to afforestation–restoration of formerly forested areas rather than imposing type conversion on areas not previously forested. Forests best serve the climate by storing carbon in leaves; grasslands and even deserts do so mostly in soil. All types of plant communities need to be respected for what they are; protection of all of them, without imposing type conversion on any of them, is an important element of biodiversity protection.

  5. This is a well-thought-out plank and I thank the Youth Caucus for providing what can be an excellent addition to our Platform.

    As to “grazing lands,” this could also include a Buffalo Commons which would help in restoring the ecological integrity of some of our Western prairies.

  6. While the proposal is a very worthy addition to the Platform, I would like to see some acknowledgement of the elephant in the room – the direct connection between livestock farming and overall climate change. Green Party platforms in other countries are way ahead of us regarding this multi-faceted issue. Must we be last? Whether individual Greens want to give up eating meat is one thing, but the Party itself needs to – at the very least – acknowledge there’s a problem.

    To that end, I would suggest some additional language to this proposal that encourages the conversion of lands used for intensive grazing or production of feed crops to protected woods, grasslands, plains and wildlife habitats.

    Perhaps adding this language to the end of item 3 (but numbered as item 2 in the proposal above):

    3. Encourage the use of regenerative agricultural techniques [and the conversion of lands used for intensive grazing or production of feed crops to protected woods, grasslands, plains, and wildlife habitats.]

  7. I support Bonnie Reading’s additional language, and would suggest that “encourage” could take the form of direct payments (with carbon emissions taxes an appropriate source) for landowners who forego the discouraged uses and dedicate their lands to carbon drawdown and biodiversity. For public land, private grazing contracts need to be non-renewed as they expire, with the intent that wild grazing species would eventually fill the niches vacated by the owned grazers.

  8. I appreciate all the thoughtful comments on the proposal.

    Regarding afforestation and reforestation, the definition of the two terms can sometimes be a subject of debate. For example, here in Santa Clara County, California, we have grasslands that were forests/woodlands before colonization, but have not been forested for many hundreds of years. To revegetate such areas could be considered reforestation or afforestation depending on the scope of time being considered.

    I do wholeheartedly agree that all plant communities must be respected. I would hate to see biodiverse chaparral being converted into redwood forest, for instance.

    Taking those thoughts into account, item 1 could be modified, such as,
    “Plant trees, reforest and afforest[1] public lands[2][3], with respect to the biodiversity of plant communities. ”

    Addressing speciesism, I understand that grazing for sale and slaughter is a form of exploitation. On the other hand, on an ecological scale, grazing can be a non-toxic tool to restore habitat (for removing invasive species for example).

    I like Bonnie Redding’s addition.

  9. Some areas that were forested when only indigenous people were here, and have been non-forest habitats since, owe the change to declining groundwater levels once wells were installed for agricultural and domestic use. Indigenous people generally used surface water (although there were exceptions, such as among the Cahuilla of the Coachella Valley; the town of “Indian Wells” was named for some of their walk-in wells) while the displacing peoples generally dug wells and brought with them a concept of overlying rights by which use of the groundwater beneath their properties was considered a property right, even though physically groundwater behaves as a commons. Californians are currently wrestling with the resultant dilemmas as we struggle to implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

    A question worthy of research is whether such areas, if afforested (or reforested) and with all recharge protected, would experience recovering groundwater levels that would allow replaced forests to ultimately be self-sustaining. Where subsidence has not impaired the capacity of the groundwater basin, and where surrounding lands are not full of wells whose cones of depression extend into the areas to be reforested, it might be possible, to some extent, to reconstitute the conditions, above and below the ground, that existed prior to the arrival of displacing peoples. We tend to think of groundwater depletion as a permanent loss, but if it is actually reversible, that could help us combat other ills such as sea level rise. It used to be thought that thermal expansion of sea water and melting of land-based glaciers were each responsible for about half of the observed rise, but in the last decade, new research has shown that the contribution of the mining of groundwater (pulling water that had been isolated from the atmosphere-ocean cycle into that cycle) is substantial, perhaps somewhere between 25% to 30% of the total rise!

    The above may seem like a diversion from the topic at hand, but goes to show the many complex and interweaving factors that go into ecological restoration. The “Green New Deal” should include plenty of research as well as action. Action should occur where positive results can be reliably foreseen, but in many places, controlled experiments in small pilot project areas (various alternatives of doing, with equal areas committed to not-doing, and attentive watching) should precede large-scale projects. While people like to talk of “management” of ecosystems, prescribing “treatments,” etc. (isn’t “wildlife management” an oxymoron?) we should avoid the arrogance that goes with such words. In many places the best practices for ecological restoration are presently ambiguous and likely to differ from place to place based on variables only dimly understood at present, and the gaining of such understanding, while it may never bring back the sophisticated place-based knowledge acted on by indigenous people before the invasions, will at least make us wiser and less likely to do damage where we intended to restore.

  10. I am glad to see this proposal includes: 2. Revegetate grasslands with native species to prevent desertification and improve climate resilience[4].

    Too often the focus is on reforestation. Any area that receives between 10 to 30 inches of rain per year is defined as “grassland” in temperate regions. They should not and essentially can not be reforested. Due to climate change the acreage of areas that can not support trees is increasing. Grasslands at the lower precipitation range should not be farmed. They should be planted in native grassland species. Native prairies act as carbon sinks as well as if not better than forested areas. Plowing destroys that ability and creates silt in runoff that is a major factor in the rise of dead zones in our oceans.

  11. Many valley areas in California, such as the Santa Clara Valley, the Central Valley, etc. indigenously harbored extensive perennial grasslands, laced with extensive areas of riparian woodland, with valley oak parkland (Quercus lobata) in the transitions between, where both grass and trees thrived. All these features need to recover as much of their original integrity as possible, although perennial grasses have generally been replaced by annuals, to the detriment of valley oak reproduction. Perennial grasses’ strategy for dealing with seasonal heat and drought is to be thrifty in water use. Annual grasses’ is to spend the dry season as seeds, and they make profligate use of water when available in winter and early spring, drawing moisture from the soil, to serve the cause of maturing and going to seed. The oaks had co-evolved with the former grass strategy, and are ill-adapted to the latter, and to the proliferation of ground squirrels and pocket gophers that gorge themselves on hefty grass seeds in the spring and summer and then resort to acorns and oak seedlings in fall and winter.

    I agree with Bruce Hinkforth that grasslands are extremely valuable soil-builders, and form the foundation of robust food chains. This is especially true in deep-soiled valleys, the first places taken for competing human uses from large-scale agriculture to urban development. Environmentalists often focus on preserving views of prominent hills, mountains, slopes, and crags, but from a biodiversity point of view, it is the deep-soiled valleys that have the most value, although every place is of unique value. As Wendell Berry reminds us, “There are no un-sacred places. There are only sacred places and desecrated places.”

  12. Eric Greening brings up a valuable point regarding the complexity and need for research when implementing ecological restoration.

    Perhaps an addition to the language could be,
    “Greens support creating a federal program, under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for carbon sequestration to fund thoroughly researched, local public initiatives that:”

  13. I like Advith Ramachandran’s proposed addition, or perhaps the wording could clarify that the funding would cover both the research (including small pilot projects with controls on the experiments) and the initiatives that benefit from the knowledge gained from the research. In additional to the Federal funding, states might create parallel funds for research particular to the varying ecological conditions in each state. For example, of interest to Californians (a coming Green convention in Stockton the second weekend in June might provide an occasion for discussing this), our Cap and Trade money could be far more effectively spent if more of it went onto the land in ways that promote drawdown, rather than funding emissive scams like helping well to do drivers buy electric cars, or high-speed rail, which together use up almost half the available money while land-based initiatives get about a sixth. If California could invest billions of dollars annually in ecosystem rehabilitation that includes carbon drawdown, the effect on atmospheric gases would be immediate, and the benefits would include protection of biodiversity and the integrity of watersheds.

  14. We have discussed this at length in the Animal Rights Committee and have come up with suggested wording to address the problem of supporting animal agriculture when stating that we support Regenerative Agricultural Techniques. This is my interpretation of what we all support in the committee.

    2. Encourage the use of regenerative agricultural techniques with the conversion of lands used for grazing or production of feed crops to protected woods, grasslands, plains, and wildlife habitats. Provide incentives for private landowners to convert their land with direct federal payments sourced from carbon emissions taxes and end private grazing contracts on all public lands.

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