Date of Award


Document Type



Environmental Science and Management

First Advisor

Patrick Emerson


Carbon sequestration -- Measurement, Atmospheric carbon dioxide -- Measurement, Reforestation -- Environmental aspects




Deforestation has resulted in a dramatic change to Earth’s landscape, climate, and ecosystems. To date, 46% of all forests have been cut since the onset of agriculture about 12,000 years ago (Crowther et al., 2015). During that same time, greenhouse gas concentrations have grown by 51.8% (Crowther et al., 2015). A solution to this problem could be vast carbon capture initiatives involving tree planting. Historical reforestation efforts have thus far been conducted regionally and currently make up less than 1% of the forest cover that they are replacing. With current CO2 concentrations at a record high of 402.26 ppm (NOAA, 2016), the question that I sought to answer was; could reforestation alone reduce CO2 concentrations to pre-industrial levels? The purpose of this paper is to answer this academic question in a manner that is objective and constructive. Calculating total available land for reforestation with average temperate and tropical carbon sequestration rates reveals the potential for a 2% annual uptake in global CO2 sequestration (Brown et al., 1996). This increase would translate into a projected 2050 CO2 concentration of 361.22-373.96 parts per million (ppm). This reduction, although significant, would only represent a 7.57-11.36% reduction: far short of the 51.8% reduction necessary to bring CO2 concentrations back to preindustrial levels.


An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in University Honors and Environmental Science

Persistent Identifier