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Tasmania has become one of the first places in the world to cut CO2 emissions and make more removals to become carbon negative, according to new research from the Australian National University (ANU) and Griffith University.
In order to reach this goal, a lot less native forest in Tasmania was cut down for pulpwood. The researchers say that this change in forest management could be used in other parts of Australia to help the country’s net emissions go down.
“It’s a great thing for Tasmania to be carbon negative,” co-author Professor David Lindenmayer from the ANU said.
“CO2 neutral is a lot more common than CO2 positive, but we don’t hear about that very often On this planet, this is one of the first times anyone has done this kind of thing.”
“When it comes to the state’s carbon accounts, there has been a huge change. In the past, Tasmania was a net emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Now, it is removing more carbon dioxide and other gases from the air than it is emitting. In the last few years, Tasmania’s net emissions have been in the red.”
“Climate change can be slowed down by changes in how forests are managed. In this case, you can see how things have changed since Tasmania stopped exporting wood chips and paper pulp.”
Professor Brendan Mackey, from Griffith University, is the lead author of the study. He said that forest management could help keep global warming down and help world leaders meet their goals from the Paris Agreement.
“As our paper says, a big source of emissions comes from deforestation and damage caused by logging native forests,” he said.
He also said that the State Government in Victoria has agreed that emissions from native forest logging are the same as the emissions from 730 000 cars every year.
“Changing forest management in native forests to avoid CO2 emissions from logging and to allow natural forest growth is an effective strategy that can quickly cut emissions and remove more CO2 from the air at the same time,” he said.
Protecting natural forest ecosystem carbon stocks is important, as is making sure the mitigation benefits of forest protection are properly accounted for. This will help us make the deep, rapid cuts in emissions that we need over the next 10 years.
The new paper, which was published in Environmental Research Letters, talks about how storing carbon in forests could help fight climate change.
“Most of the talks about climate change so far have been about cutting back on emissions, but that’s only one part of the picture. Because we need to store a lot more carbon in the environment, this is what we should do “Professor Lindenmayer said this:
You can do that the best in forests because they store the most carbon per square metre. Some of the wetter forests in southern Australia have huge trees and huge amounts of carbon, which is where you can do it the best.
“There is a real need to look at the true value of our natural resources and the value of protecting natural forests as carbon reserves for the country. This is a lot more profitable than logging them for wood chips and other things.”
When there is clearly a better way, we don’t need to be the world’s mine and quarry and buy it back as toilet paper.
In order to make forest protection count for the climate, we need to change the way we account for and report carbon dioxide emissions and carbon dioxide removals from the air. This way, we can account for both avoiding emissions and allowing forest growth to remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Further information: Brendan Mackey et al, Net carbon accounting and reporting are a barrier to understanding the mitigation value of forest protection in developed countries, Environmental Research Letters (2022). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac661b
Journal information: Environmental Research Letters
Source: Australian National University