Sitka, Alaska, has substantial hydroelectric resources, limited driving distances, and a conservation-minded community, all suggesting strong opportunities for achieving a low community carbon footprint. In this research we evaluate the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Sitka and compare this to the estimated CO2 sequestration potential of forest ecosystems. We determine whether a carbonneutral community is attained when these two factors are balanced. Our analysis consisted of two parts: estimating anthropogenic CO2 emissions from Sitka, and comparing this value to estimates of carbon sequestration from forests on Baranof Island in southeast Alaska. We found total estimated anthropogenic emissions from Sitka to be in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 Mg carbon per year. Carbon sequestration by forests on Baranof Island was conservatively estimated to be more than 250,000 Mg carbon per year. This estimate was extrapolated from studies evaluating net ecosystem productivity of forests similar to those in southeast Alaska. Further reductions in anthropogenic emissions are still possible in Sitka. The expansion of the Blue Lake hydroelectric generating facility (adding up to 34,000 megawatt-hours per year of energy) could further reduce Sitka’s carbon footprint.
Nicholls, David; Patterson, Trista. 2015. Greenhouse gas emissions versus forest sequestration in temperate rain forests—a southeast Alaska analysis. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-918. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 25 p.