News - 16 November 2018

Carbon and forests

Research from leading scientists at the Australian National University shows that Australia has some of the most carbon-dense forests on Earth.

The towering Mountain Ash forests of the Central Highlands—targeted for logging to make office paper products like Reflex—are especially carbon-dense, storing up to 10,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare. Every time a tree is logged, this carbon is released into the atmosphere, making climate change worse.  

If left unlogged for 100 years, forests like these have the potential to sequester carbon equivalent to 25% of current annual emissions! This makes intact, unlogged forests critical to solving climate change. An end to logging of the carbon-rich eucalypt forests in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania will ensure these forests play their crucial role in Australia’s fight against climate change. 

Why are Victoria's forests so important?

An ANU scientific publication has pulled together findings from research conducted in Australia and overseas over the past 10 years and developed a new methodology for measuring the 'carbon carrying capacity’ of Australia’s forests and woodlands. Key findings include:

  • Logging reduces the carbon stores in a natural forest by 40-60%
  • The largest, oldest trees contain up to 54% of carbon stored in these forest ecosystems
  • Younger, recovering forests store less carbon than older, intact forests
  • Bushfires do not reduce the carbon stored in a forest in the same way that logging does
  • Victoria’s Mountain Ash forests store up to ten times more carbon than tropical forests.

The research has global application at the methodology and policy level, and has shown that our native forests are capable of storing far more carbon than plantations. 

Today, there remain two key questions for Australian state and federal governments: 

  • How much carbon dioxide could be prevented from entering the atmosphere if logging of native forests is stopped?
  • How much carbon dioxide could be pulled out of the atmosphere if native forests are no longer logged?

These questions are key for land management decisions, recovery of forest biodiversity, and for real action to mitigate dangerous climate change. 

Find out more:

Download a synopsis of the Green Carbon Report - prepared by The Wilderness Society.   

View ANU's 'Green Carbon - The role of natural forests in carbon storage.