Tasmania Becomes Third in the World to Reach Negative Carbon
Tasmania, an island state of Australia located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland has become one of the first places in the world to achieve a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Yes, Tasmania successfully achieved its ambition to become a carbon-negative place. According to research, the island state achieved net carbon emissions by reducing logging activities and deforestation.
Deforestation reduces forests’ ability to absorb and sequester carbon. Forests are also the important carbon sinks in the world. So, deforestation will make climate change worse.
“Most people don’t realize that when you log native forests, it has a huge carbon footprint,” Griffith University’s Professor Brendan Mackey said. “And when you change the forest management to reduce the amount of native forest logging you use, you avoid very significant amounts of CO2 emissions.”
Previously, only two countries have successfully gone carbon negative: Bhutan and Suriname. But now, Tasmania can also claim the rare achievement due to the momentous change in forest management in 2011/12, according to a new scientific study published in the Environmental Research Letters.
“That was when there was a significant drop in native forest logging in Tasmania … that’s when we saw this big change in the greenhouse gas inventory reports,” said Brendan Mackey.
Graeme Wood and Jan Cameron are Australian environmentalist millionaires. They bought the world’s second-largest woodchip mill just to shut it down.
The closure of Triabunna Mill and decommission of wood chipping and paper pulp exports gave rise to an astronomical reduction in logging for pulpwood production in the forests. Now, Tasmania absorbs and stores more carbon dioxide than it emits.
“It’s a remarkable achievement for Tasmania to be net carbon negative,” said Professor David Lindenmayer, co-author of the paper. “We hear a lot about carbon neutral but not carbon negative. This is one of the first times on the planet that anybody has ever done this kind of reversal.”
Just because the island state mostly pivoted on hydroelectric power, Tasmania already has a comparatively low emission profile. Logging of old-growth forests in the state was the main reason for greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the researchers, forest management is a key component of climate action, and other states and countries should practice similar strategies to help meet the Paris Agreement goals. This is principally the case for old-growth logging industries in New South Wales and Victoria, the latter of which emits the equivalent of 730,000 vehicles every year from logging native forests.
“Most of the climate discussions so far have been based on reducing emissions, but that is only part of the equation. We need to store a lot more carbon in the environment,” said Lindenmayer.
Tree farms or plantations could be enough to meet the demand for timber without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is vital that “we protect and enhance natural forest ecosystem carbon stocks and that the mitigation benefits of forest protection are properly accounted for,” experts suggests.
Brendan Mackey said: “There is a real need to look at the true economic value of our natural assets and the value from protecting natural forests as national carbon reserves. This contributes way more economically than logging them for wood chips and other commodities.”
“Tasmania has gone from being the emitter of carbon dioxide to now removing more than it is emitting to the atmosphere,” said Mackey, “The mitigation benefit is about 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.”
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