Trees please for APEC partners

Thursday, 06 September, 2007

Australian scientists are training foresters in neighbouring APEC countries to use the Australian Greenhouse Office's National Carbon Accounting Toolbox (NCAT) to assess carbon sequestration in native and plantation forests.

Ensis scientist, Dr Trevor Booth says that while tree planting projects can offset some of the increasing carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity, measuring tree growth and carbon storage require some skill — particularly where large reforestation projects are involved.

"The aim is to use the NCAT to assist countries including China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, to establish forest-based carbon trading or offset projects which should benefit their longer-term national economic outlook and their poor," Booth said.

"Australia is largely on track to meet its notional Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas emissions target almost entirely due to trees," Booth said.

"Reducing clearing of forests and woodlands for agriculture is offsetting most of the increases in emissions from power stations, while increases in plantation growth are largely offsetting increases in emissions due to transport. We know this thanks to Australia's National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS), which was developed by the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) in collaboration with CSIRO."

At the global scale, land-use changes, mainly as a result of tropical deforestation in the tropics, account for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions — more than total emissions from transport.

"Reducing deforestation and sustainable long-term management of forests are issues likely to be considered during the APEC meeting in Sydney from 2-9 September," Booth said.

"Afforestation and reforestation schemes can be set up to benefit developing countries. They are 'no regrets' actions that can be undertaken now and can make a significant contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions — particularly in the next 20 years while high-tech solutions are developed."

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