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Carbon Sequestration

New efforts to go green at Doane were made this week when 30 trees were planted as part of the Doane Carbon Capture Project.


Funding for the project was approved last year and the planning was implemented as part of Biology Professor Ramesh Laungani’s Conservation Biology class.


Laungani asked six groups of students to make a plan for carbon sequestration on campus. The students were asked to research 30 to 40 species of trees and determine which assortment would be the most successful in the allotted space. Seniors AJ Spanel and Cason Christensen and junior Phil Thramer proposed an idea for the project that the class chose to implement on campus.


“If we create these reservoirs of carbon it’s going to decrease the flux of carbon going in and out of the ecosystem which can decrease the effects of global climate change,” Thramer said. “We’re striving for a carbon neutral strategy.”


Thramer said the project involved months of hard work and planning.


“First, we got general information that hardwoods sequester more carbon,” Thramer said, “but then we ran into problem that we would run out of room (if we used all hardwood trees). They would compete for space.”


The group’s final plan included 18 coniferous and 12 deciduous trees. Species included black hills spruce, norway spruce, bur oak, sugar maple, common persimmon, and black walnut.


“The overall goal was carbon sequestration,” Thramer said, “but we also put an emphasis on biodiversity within the tree species and a small emphasis on habitat restoration.”


Thramer said the group also looked for both the immediate and future benefits of the proposal.


“We looked at the amount of carbon the trees sequester, and how much they do when they’re fully grown compared to when they’re young,” he said. “We had to figure out what would happen in the next 10 years and what would happen 50 years down the road.”


This semester was used to test the project. Future classes will track the success of the carbon capturing and propose new ideas.


“We were the guinea pigs with this project in hopes that it will maximize carbon sequestration,” Thramer said, “but next year’s class will learn from what we did wrong and the mistakes we made to improve their plots and increase carbon sequestration.”


The class spent Monday morning planting the 30 trees in a plot near 13th and Iris on the northeast corner of campus.


“My favorite part was putting the trees in the ground,” Thramer said. “Finally getting out and stepping back and looking at what we did throughout the semester; you could see it in our presentation in our class, but to see it out in the plot was very rewarding.”

 

PHOTO: Nate Knobel '14