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TAS Country : May 19th 2011
20 Tasmanian Country Friday, May 20, 2011 Opinion Kit clears climate cloud CHEWS theFAT David Byard PASSIONATE: Private Forests Tasmania's Arthur Lyons is enthusiastic about the Carbon Plantations Kit. I HAVE tended to steer away from thinking too hard about climate change, partly because I worry about my children and their children's future and because I find the language at times just too complicated. Arthur Lyons from Private Forests Tasmania changed all that when he got in my ear about it and the assorted associated projects he has been working on. Private Forests Tasmania has developed a Carbon Plantations Kit that Arthur outlined to me with his usual enthusiasm. One of the project's tasks has been to research and develop best- management practices for carbon sequestration, wood production, and new investment opportunities on private land in Tasmania. One of the outcomes has been to help landowners understand climate change, the impact of emissions trading and how to invest in, grow and manage plantations in a changing climate. I have met a lot of people who believe climate change is just a natural event. I think one of the reasons for this is the weasel words from people trying to get people to disengage from the debate. The Carbon Plantations Kit provides an important lesson on climate change that puts the scientific argument into layman's terms that the reader can understand. It explains how the earth is wrapped in a blanket of gases that traps heat from the sun and how human activities are adding huge amounts of greenhouse gas, largely carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere. The biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution is the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil for energy. Other causes are agricultural activities and the clearing of forest, heath and grasslands. This pollution stays in the atmosphere for many years, thickens the earth's blanket and overheats the planet. As the globe warms, climate and extreme weather events such as heatwaves, floods, storms and droughts are more intense, more frequent and they happen in more places. Australia is particularly vulnerable to climate events, environmentally and economically. It is the driest inhabited continent and climate change is making more regions drier. Natural inhabitants, especially in alpine environments and coastal systems, are expected to be particularly effected by climate change. The most significant gas produced is methane, of which large animals like cattle emit around 280 litres a day. Sheep emit about 25 litres a day. Australia's livestock production contributes about 14 per cent of the country's greenhouse emissions. Tens of millions of cattle and sheep produce about three million tonnes of methane a year equating to 90 per cent of all methane produced in Australia. For many years, it was believed this flatulence produced the majority of the greenhouse gas, but this is not so. About 95 per cent of methane produced by cattle comes from burping during the chewing of the cud. As of March this year, the Federal Government's emission policy has excluded all agricultural emissions from its carbon tax planning leaving the energy sector to suffer alone. The many properties with eligible tree plantings are more than offsetting the energy sector's emissions. The kit goes into great detail, with case studies on different properties and how they rate, in particular whether they are emitters or sequesters. Some producers have been pleased to learn their farms are storing more carbon than they are emitting. Anybody interested in global warming should download the kit. It will be available soon at www.privateforests.tas.gov.au. On the Tassie horizon IN Tasmania, rising temperatures will diminish the extent of alpine areas and reduce habitats available for native species. The changing climate is expected to have a significant impact on agriculture, as areas warm up and changing rainfall patterns affect water availability. Tasmania is likely to experience moderate rises in temperatures, and evaporation is predicted to increase in all areas except the west coast and associated highlands, where small decreases are predicted. Rainfall is likely to increase by 7-11 per cent in the west and central areas and to decrease by about 8 per cent in the northeast by 2040. Sea-level rises and frequent and severe storm surges are likely to result in inundation and erosion of the coastline. Many of Tasmania's primary industries are already, and will remain, under threat from climate change. However, some industries, such as wine growing and several new and emerging industries, could benefit from temperature increase. By 2030, the annual average number of days below 0C is likely to decrease from 35 to between 16 and 30 in the Launceston region. But recognise that if you are willing to adapt to change there will be opportunities. Farmers play key role in project KAROLIN MacGREGOR TASMANIAN farmers are now better placed to establish plantations to help mitigate against climate change and improve their businesses thanks to the findings of the Carbon Plantations Project. The project, the first of its kind in Tasmania, is based on four case studies which analysed the economic impacts of farm forestry for wood production and the role it plays within a carbon trading system. The project has been conducted by Private Forests Tasmania using a $255,000 grant from the Federal Government's Forest Industry Climate Change Research Fund. The official findings of the report were released last month. Tasmanian farmers will soon have access to a Carbon Plantations Kit which will include information about how they can establish and manage plantations on their properties to offset carbon emissions, produce wood on a commercial scale and take part in future carbon trading schemes. Landowners who took part in the project were asked how much they knew about carbon trading. They were also quizzed about how important they considered it to be for the future operations of their businesses. The four farm case studies involved in the project were Rob and Kathy Henry's property Woodrising at Cressy, Lawrence Archer's property Effingham at Beechford, Richard Johnston's properties Oakleigh at Rosevale and Highbrae at Westwood, and Alan and Rosie Davenport's dairy farm Telita Farm at Telita. Each property underwent a greenhouse gas emission audit to determine emissions and how they were offset by plantations. The Henrys said it was time to start thinking more about carbon trading. Mr Archer said he had grown trees on his property in the past for the benefits the trees provided but since being involved with this project he had discovered the valuable role they played offsetting emissions. ''The Carbon Plantations Project has provided economic and scientific information I have found very useful and I am pleased to have been able to contribute,'' Mr Archer said.
May 12th 2011
May 26th 2011