Sunday, August 17, 2008

mountain ash = carbon stash

The most astounding report hit my desk a couple of weeks ago, I was so amazed by the contents of the study that I spoke about them at last week’s council meeting. Green Carbon, the role of natural forest in carbon storage has just been released by the Australian National University.

The study, conducted by Brendan Mackey, Heather Keith, Sandra Berry and David Lindenmayer, reveals some remarkable facts about the capacity of Eucalyptus Regnans (Mountain Ash) to store carbon. The scientists have found that Mountain Ash have the capacity to store 10 times more carbon than other native forests in Australia.

In studying Australia’s forests it was found that the highest biomass carbon stocks are in the mountain ash forests of the Central Highlands of Victoria and in Tasmania. These forests store an average of more than 1200 tonnes biomass carbon, and a maximum of over 2000 tonnes of biomass carbon per hectare of forest. This is exactly the forest that is currently reserved for Melbourne’s water catchments and is still being logged to supply the woodchip industry (85% of logged Mountain Ash forest goes to pulp).

ANU scientists have calculated that the average amount of carbon stored in unlogged natural eucalypt forests is about 640 tonnes per hectare. According to the leading worldwide climate change scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the average carbon stock in temperate forests is only 217 tonnes of carbon per hectare.

The research found that around 9.3 billion tonnes of carbon can be stored in the 14.5 million hectares of natural eucalypt forests in south-east Australia if they are left undisturbed. The carbon currently stored in these forests is equivalent to “avoided emissions” of 460 million tonnes of CO2 per year for the next 100 years.

If you’d like to read more visit:

This only reinforces the stance of Yarra Ranges Council to oppose logging of Melbourne’s water catchments. Back in November 2007, I moved a motion to oppose logging which received unanimous support from councillors. At that time my argument was based on the threat to water supplies, which is still very real, but compound that with what has been revealed about carbon in native forests it is even more imperative that logging our forests stops now.

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