The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014

Post carbon consumption examined

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Fort Benning environmental experts recently worked with the Georgia Forestry Commission to determine carbon consumption that is captured through the management of local forests.

The Georgia Forestry Commission performed a carbon sequestration analysis of 148,000 acres on Fort Benning at the request of the Plans, Analysis Integration Office and Directorate of Public Works Land Management Branch.

This effort, which more than a year to develop, highlights the success of the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by the installation and provide numerous ecological benefits to the nearby communities.

According to a report prepared in December by the Georgia Forestry Commission, forests have the ability to intake carbon dioxide, store the carbon in its wood fiber and release oxygen back into the atmosphere. This process of capturing carbon is called carbon sequestration and has been a topic of interest in the debate of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions policy making. Georgia’s forests sequester approximately 8 percent of its annual carbon dioxide emissions.

Peter Lukken, strategic sustainability planner for the Plans, Analysis Integration Office, said Fort Benning is the first installation to perform the analysis.

“What brought the carbon counting was the Net Zero Tracking Report the garrison produced last year and will produce hopefully every year,” Lukken said. “We track our energy, water and waste production for the Army’s Net Zero Project … we also track our carbon production and footprint as well as our carbon sequestration.”

Fort Benning’s Net Zero Tracking Report allows the command to measure performance and project future investments through sustainability planning for natural resources, including measuring the amount of carbon production, capture, consumption and offsets.

“The report shows that Fort Benning has a net carbon surplus when compared to our carbon production on base,” Lukken said.

According to the report, the total amount of carbon stored in Fort Benning’s forest is currently 16,860,142 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. In 2020, the estimated amount of carbon dioxide sequestered by the ongoing, sustainable management of forest will increase to 18,967,527 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

On an annual basis, the forest will remove 301,055 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is compared to annual greenhouse gas emissions from 67,720 passenger vehicles or 112,755 tons of waste sent to landfills instead of recycled.

The report commended the Land Management Branch for its efforts to manage resources and taking the lead in carbon sequestration. Lukken said Fort Benning has gone beyond the Army’s expectations for responsible management and usage of natural resources.

“We do a wonderful job here with forest and management. It shows how much carbon is being used through our trees, roots system and soil,” he said.

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