Importance of Vegetation in a Statewide Carbon Budget Using GIS: A Case Study of the Lowcountry, SC
Paz, Enma Lucia
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With growing acknowledgement of, and interest in, the issue of global warming, it is of increased importance to study the local scale effects of climate change in our communities. Understanding the chemical, physical and biological realms of our immediate surroundings should be among top priorities, especially as our human population takes primary blame for the rapid changes occurring throughout our planet. Given this identified anthropogenic pressure, this thesis project assesses the importance of vegetation within the Lowcountry region of South Carolina for its role in carbon sequestration. The research has been carried out through a local analysis of a larger-scale statewide carbon budget, calculated according to the U.S. EPA's State Inventory Tools for carbon (and other greenhouse gases) sources and sinks. In addition to the inventory's results, GIS land use changes, coupled with social theory and demographics analyses have been used to establish grounds for the conservation and restoration of vegetation throughout the state of South Carolina. These strategies address both the quantified importance of natural green-space (for its valuable process of carbon uptake and other ecosystem services) and the need for sustainable economic growth throughout the Lowcountry. Since these assessments have yet to be done in South Carolina, I will articulate how the information can be significant for environmental policy. The forthcoming recommendations will address acknowledgement and mitigation of our community's role in local and global climate change.