Tasmania has become one of the few places in the world to achieve net carbon negative emissions by cutting down logging activities, according to a new study.
A “remarkable achievement”
The study comes from the Australian National University (ANU) and Griffith University, where scientists have analyzed the country’s greenhouse gas stock by looking at each state’s share of emissions. The team saw that the island state in Australia had made a “remarkable achievement.”
“Tasmania has gone from being the emitter of carbon dioxide to now removing more than it is emitting to the atmosphere,” said Brendan Mackey, Griffith University researcher. “The mitigation benefit is about 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.”
There are not many other places in the world that have achieved carbon negativity, with Bhutan and Suriname being the only two countries in the world to claim such a rare achievement. “This is one of the first times on the planet that anybody has ever done this kind of reversal,” said Professor David Lindenmayer from the ANU.
Reduction in native forest harvesting
As part of the study, the research team looked at native forest harvesting and concluded that the significant reduction in carbon emissions could be attributed to a reduction in native forest logging throughout the last decade.
“Most people don’t realize that when you log native forests, it has a huge carbon footprint,” Professor 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.”
The main changes in Tasmania’s approach to forest management took place in 2011 and 2012. “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,” explained Professor Mackey.
To cut emissions further, the change in forest management should be replicated by other states in Australia as well, argued Professor Mackey. “It is vital we protect and enhance natural forest ecosystem carbon stocks and that the mitigation benefits of forest protection are properly accounted for and reported to help us achieve the deep and rapid cuts in emissions needed over the coming critical decade,” he said.