Various Updates

Summer Meeting of the Desert Committee

The Summer meeting will be held in person in the White Mountains on August 17 and 18.   Details will be available closer to the date.

Information from the March 9 Meeting of the Desert Committee in Shoshone

Desert Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration in the desert is an overlooked, under-researched yet critical value both in terms of sheer sequestration capacity, and justification for suitably protecting the desert rather than assuming that covering it with solar panels and/or mining it for minerals represent the best possible uses.  Consequently, a science-focused sub-group of the 30 X 30 Inland Deserts Working Group affiliated with the statewide 30 by 30 Power in Nature coalition is urging California Natural Resources Agency [CNRA], California Air Resources Board [CARB], and California Department of Food and Agriculture [CDFA] affiliated staff to read their comprehensive report "Nature Based Solutions: Desert Sector".

Their letter begins with this powerful intro:

The California desert region has been largely overlooked as a significant carbon sink for several reasons. First, the scarce above ground vegetation is visually misleading if one assumes a singular correlation between above ground biomass and carbon sequestration capacity. This misperception is tied to a second reason for overlooking the desert sector: the desert ecosystem primarily sequesters carbon underground. Finally, as an underfunded research ecosystem, the desert sector remains woefully behind its companion ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, chaparral, and wetlands in terms of quantifying, measuring, and modeling carbon sequestration capacity. But there is more than sufficient research to make this salient point: the desert lands of California are a significant carbon sink and must be included in regional and global carbon accounting. Our analysis offers three key takeaway messages:
●  The desert’s carbon storage process differs significantly from more widely understood sectors such as forests, grasslands, chaparral, and wetlands.
● Due to the distinct carbon storage process found in the desert ecosystem, there is one recommended strategy to maximize the desert sector’s contribution to carbon emission reduction: it needs to be left undisturbed.
● Large-scale disturbance of deserts, particularly within critical ecosystems such as creosote bajadas and microphyll woodlands, will not only result in the reduction of California's biodiversity, but also in the removal of a long-term carbon sequestration source, releasing calcite carbon that has been stored for millennia.

Specifically, our recommended target for the desert sector is conservation of 100% of undisturbed non-military public lands annually based on current levels, starting in 2024, and that regions displaying higher densities of microphyll woodlands and creosote bajadas be especially prioritized due to their higher capacity for carbon sequestration.

As you would expect, there is a technical paper to substantiate and justify the letter.