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Published by Glenda Farmer on April 26, 2019

Shahadah Muhammad a Academy of Green Technology student planting a tree.

Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville is planting the seeds of the future. Students in the school’s Academy of Green Technology have embarked on a carbon sequestration study, which will monitor the impacts of trees on carbon emissions and provide environmental and educational benefits to the community.

Denise Renfro, the director of the Academy of Green Technology, said that her students wanted to develop a project that would address climate change and explore several aspects of carbon banks. Carbon banks are forests that are managed to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and ultimately reduce the effects of global warming.
According to North Carolina State University, the average tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every year and sequester one ton of the greenhouse gas by the time it is 40 years old.

Douglas Byrd’s carbon sequestration study is a part of a large carbon bank at the Cumberland County Schools Educational Resource Center. Sustainable Sandhills, an environmental non-profit organization based in Cumberland County, manages the carbon bank, which currently holds over 1,000 pine trees. Students participating in the study have populated the carbon bank with several varieties of native deciduous trees such as green ash, red maple, sweet gum, willow oak, and yellow poplar. As the trees grow, the students will measure variables such as trunk diameter, tree height, dry weight and green weight to calculate their carbon sequestration values. They will also compare the efficacy of mixed tree stands to monocultures.

“I believe that the carbon bank will, in the future, have a significant impact,” Renfro said.

Academy of Green Technology StudentThe trees will create a healthier environment, absorbing carbon emissions and improving local air quality. Economically, the trees are sources of carbon credits, which can help agencies offset potential carbon taxes and reach their sustainability goals. The bank will also support education, as it will eventually serve as a living classroom for students.

Shahadah Muhammad, a 16-year-old sophomore in the Academy of Green Technology, is participating in the carbon sequestration study. A personal interest in science, especially the topic of climate change, led him to pursue the project. “Climate change is a major issue that our society needs to address,” he said. “Some people do not believe that the issue exists. I do believe that it exists, for what it’s worth. We do need to deal with it, and I am doing my part to help.”

“I also just like planting trees,” Muhammad added.

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