14 August, 2011

Wood would do what it does best - store carbon

Canberra Times, 14 Aug, 2011

AUSTRALIA may finally be in a position to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to logging and native forests, Australian National University professor of environmental sciences Brendan Mackey said yesterday.
He was among the leading science minds who gathered in Canberra for Australia's Forests and Climate Forum.

The event followed the publication of major findings about the value of forests as carbon sinks in the journal Science last month.

Professor Mackey told the Sunday Canberra Times Australia's plantation resources had matured and should be able to replace native forests as the source of timber.

"There has been very significant investment in plantations over the past few decades and that wood has started to come online which allows us to take pressure off native forests," he said.

"We have enough coming from plantations to meet the needs of industry and we are in a position to re-evaluate what we do with our forests.?? The report in Science, which was co-written by CSIRO researcher Pep Canadell, stated that the world?s established forests removed 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon per year from the atmosphere.

Dr Canadell said scientists had previously thought the figure was much lower.

"We can make huge savings in climate change mitigation by leaving forests in the ground," he said.

"These findings have shown us that forests are very large carbon sinks."

The former chairman of Australian Ethical Investments, actuary Naomi Edwards, said logging plantation timber was far more profitable than cutting down native forests.

"People tend to assume we trash our native forests because we make a lot of money out of it," she said.

"But that's not the case.

"The only state forestry corporation that makes money from logging is South Australia because they have no native forest logging.

"It is only plantation."

ANU economist Judith Ajani said it was up to government to ensure Australia stopped logging native forests and fully moved to plantation resources.

"Australian forests should be retired from wood production because of the size of plantation resources and it's a wonderful opportunity to let them do what they do best, which is to store carbon," she said.

"This is a serious government leadership issue and it's only government that can do this job."

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