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Carbon Sequestration (In Progress)
The iCAP Working Group (iWG) met on Feb 16, 2017. They supported the South Campus Afforestation recommendation.
The 2015 iCAP, chapter 7, objective 5 is "Increase carbon sequestration in campus soils by determining the sequestration value of existing plantings and identifying locations for additional plantings, with a specific objective of converting at least 50 acres of U of I farmland to agroforestry by FY20."
The first half of this objective aims to determine the sequestration value of existing plants. To do so, we need to know how many trees are in the campus, as trees are the largest contribution of carbon sequestration. However, the campus does not have a current database for all the trees, only one from 10 years ago, during which trees can grow a lot. A new tree survey for the whole campus should be done to gather detailed information, including how many, what kind, and how big the trees are. In 2017, F&S had already got the funding from carbon credits sales to fund the tree inventory. Once the tree map is updated, the carbon sequestration can be calculated.
For the second half of this objective of finding locations for additional planting up to 50 acres by FY20, campus already has 30 acres from a research farm and is currently looking at smaller land parcels to aggregate into the larger goal of 20 acres. Before the Climate Leadership Commitments were signed there were three areas of agroforestry on campus: the Illini Grove (6.5 acres), the South Arboretum Woods (21.9 acres), and the Forestry Tract (36.8 acres). In FY13, 2.6 acres were added at the Sustainable Student Farm (SSF) with the Woody Perrenial Polyculture site, and in FY15 another 30 acres were added with the Agroforestry for Food project.
Carbon sequestration is the process through which land management practices absorb and sink carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Sequestration activities can reduce climate change by enhancing carbon storage in trees and soils, preserving existing tree and soil carbon, and by reducing emissions of CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). The modification of agricultural practices is one method of carbon sequestration in soil. Reforestation on marginal crop and pasture lands transfers atmospheric CO2 to new biomass. For this process to be successful it is important to either manage such forests in perpetuity or use the wood from them for biochar, bio-energy with carbon storage, or durable products. The University plans to investigate methods of Carbon Sequestration, such as biochar.
7.5 Total acres of agroforestry (Tracked by Fiscal Year)
- FY 2008:
Includes the Illini Grove, the South Arboretum Woods, and the Forestry Tract
- FY 2013:
Added Woody Perennial Polyculture site at Sustainable Student Farm
- FY 2015:
Added Multifunctional Woody Polyculture at Energy Farm