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Doane Carbon Capture Project (DC2P)

One of the most pronounced global anthropogenic changes is the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations from the burning of nonrenewable fossil fuels.  This has led to an emphasis on understanding ecosystem carbon budgets and the development of carbon sequestration strategies.  Doane University can become a regional leader on this front through the implementation of simple, but effective, student driven carbon capture and carbon sequestration projects. The Doane Carbon Capture Project is a student driven program that will actively engage students in decision making about how Doane University can both quantify the standing carbon stocks on campus and increase the carbon capture of the college as a whole.  This project will also provide a learning tool that can be used to examine a number of ecological, conservation, sustainability based questions.  Below I outline the major sections of the program through the questions that the students can answer.

Student measuring diameter of tree to calculate carbon storageWhat are the standing carbon stocks at Doane University?

Students will measure the carbon content of the standing forest ecosystems on Doane University campus.  In order to do this, students will establish long-term carbon monitoring plots in a number of the forested areas around campus. Students will mark and identify trees to species and will determine, using published allometric equations for north American tree species, the standing carbon stocks both above and belowground.  This will be a progressive project with subsequent groups of students setting up and monitoring new areas around campus every year so that ultimately the entire campus will be surveyed.   These data will be collected annually by the students in the class and will be digitally archived to establish a long-term carbon monitoring database. 

How can Doane University increase its campus-wide carbon sequestration?

In the second part of the DC2P program, centered on actively sequestering atmospheric CO2, students will establish  new forest plantings on Doane’s campus.  These new plantings will be designed, established, maintained, and monitored by the students under the guidance of Doane biology faculty members.  The new forest and prairie plantings will provide students with a great opportunity to carry out a conservation project from start to finish that will have an impact on their campus, while also providing opportunities for future students to ask new conservation questions.  Some of those questions might be: What are the most effective tree species to sequester atmospheric CO2?  Should this plan emphasize fast or slow growing species?  What are the advantages/disadvantages to either option? Below is a slideshow of the first DC2P tree planting in Spring 2013.