Galang, Jeff (Virginia Tech, 427 Smyth Hall, Blacksburg, VA, 24060; Phone: 540-641-2212; Email:


Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to Assess Virginia’s Best Options for Sequestering Carbon through Improved Land-Use Management


J.S. Galang *, C.E. Zipper, S.P. Prisley, J.M. Galbraith, R.H. Wynne


Numerous process-based models exist that assess carbon fluxes over time; however, few studies have focused on assessing the potential for carbon sequestration over broad geographic areas through specific land management changes using the concept of ‘additionality’. This study uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to estimate the additional CO2  that could be sequestered in the state of Virginia through alternative management of agricultural and forested lands. Three primary management changes are considered: conversion of marginal agricultural land to long-term forest cover, conversion of tillage practices for row crops, and changes in forest management. Additional considerations include afforestation of agricultural lands within riparian zones and assessment of the rate of forest loss over time. Downloadable data from public agencies were gathered to develop a spatial database of relevant factors and manipulated through a variety of raster overlay techniques to derive estimates of potential carbon sequestration within Virginia’s various ecoregions. Because the conversion from marginal agricultural lands to forest cover is long-term, this land-use change has the highest potential for sequestration. The highest amounts of potential sequestration from this practice are in the Tidewater region of Virginia (wet soils) and in the Ridge and Valley region (steep, shallow soils). Final maps of carbon sequestration potential can then be used to aid in the decision of which management changes to implement and in what region.