Western Australia and national and global conservations groups have released new Australian National University Enterprises (ANU-E) research that finds that trees and soils in WA's Great Western Woodlands store an estimated 950 million tonnes of carbon – equivalent to fifty times the state's annual greenhouse gas emissions.
The research findings show the Great Western Woodlands to be a significant carbon store for WA as well as internationally. With the state's rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the Great Western Woodlands represents a major opportunity to offset the state's annual greenhouse emissions through increased carbon sequestration.
“As the world moves closer to a new climate deal at Copenhagen in December, it is becoming obvious just now how important it is that we protect the world's remaining woodlands and forests for their crucial role in storing carbon and mitigating climate change,” said Dr. Alexander Watson, Director of the Great Western Woodlands Collaboration. “The globally significant carbon store found in the Great Western Woodlands has the ability to provide significant economic opportunities for WA in an increasingly carbon-conscious world.”
“Local communities and indigenous peoples have the most to gain from appropriately managing this massive carbon store,” said Keith Bradby, Director of Gondwana Link. “The ANU Enterprises research, commissioned by the Great Western Woodlands Collaboration, has highlighted that this massive carbon store is threatened by large, intense and unmanaged wildfires. The data shows these are too frequent and occur over enormous areas – not only endangering wildlife in the region, but producing a huge amount of greenhouse gas pollution.
“The research found that with improved management, such as better control of wildfires, the Great Western Woodlands could almost double the amount of carbon it currently stores (1.5 billion tonnes),” said Barry Traill, Director of the Wild Australia Program, Pew Environment Group – Australia. “This would occur over time as trees grow and mature and take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The economic and ecological value of this would be immense, and the work of achieving it would generate local employment opportunities.”