Sustainability Dual Major Capstone

Since completing SUST 750, many ideas were brought to light about interdisciplinary work. As a class, we learned from professionals with various backgrounds and worked with students from majors that encompassed all of UNH. 

For my capstone project, I worked with Team 3 to find Natural Climate Solutions on UNH farm and woodlands. With UNH managing such a vast land area, they have a certain responsibilitiy to manage this land in a responsible fashion. The group started by talking with land managers to seek historical and present information of management practices and used databases and tools such as FORGATE and COMET-Farm to quantify greenhouse gas sources and sinks on UNH farm and wood lands.

Check Out the COMET-Farm Site

After creating a data baseline, we were able to identify changes in practices that would provide cost-effecctive improvements to the GHG emisions profile of the university. We worked with a main solution goal to - 

Implement Natural Climate Solutions that increase carbon storage and decrease greenhouse gas emissions in farmland and forest management practices at UNH.

Some results that the team found - 

  • Regnerative agricultural practices
    • Decreased use of synthetic chemicals/uncomposted material
    • Further covercropping 
    • Vermicomposting
  • Implementing carbon offset program 
  • Management of invasive species
  • Partial harvest and selection method
    • Harvesting only lumber and other long life cycle products
  • Potential for biogas or heat storage

With this being the first year of this project specifically being done, there is so much room for advancement in providing solutions. The most time consuming part of this project was establishing the baseline and I hope that next years students can continue this work on cost-effectiveness of possible sustainable solutions.

Working on a project that has the ability to make a difference on campus, locally in Durham, and at even greater lengths is really empowering and helps greatly to keep sustainability a constant topic of conversation at UNH. I am very appreciative of the ways that the SDM has made myself personally a more sustainable student, as well as inspiring others to become more sustainable on their own.