Carbon for conservation

Assessing the potential for win-win investment in an extensive Australian regrowth ecosystem

John M. Dwyer*, Rod J. Fensham, Don W. Butler, Yvonne M. Buckley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Woody regrowth is extensive on abandoned agricultural lands and developed pastures worldwide. Regrowth is actively controlled in working pastures, but it could be managed to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and other emitting industries with supplementary benefits for biodiversity conservation. This paper explores the case of Brigalow regrowth in the extensive pastoral landscape of north-eastern Australia. By synthesising current ecological knowledge with relevant socio-economic and policy considerations, it examines the potential of the Brigalow regrowth ecosystem to provide dual carbon/biodiversity benefits. Brigalow regrowth sequesters large amounts of carbon, especially when compared to other ecosystems from similar sub-humid climates. In addition, restoring regrowth is likely to have benefits for a wide range of native flora and fauna, including the endangered bridled nailtail wallaby. However, there are knowledge gaps relating to the landscape ecology of Brigalow regrowth and the impacts of management and climate change on carbon/restoration potential. Also, a conflict exists between short-term carbon sequestration and long-term restoration goals and we suggest a role for restoration thinning to resolve this. Regional demand for high biomass regrowth as a carbon offset is likely to be high but ambiguities in carbon policy threaten to diminish the use of natural regrowth for reforestation projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume134
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

Keywords

  • Acacia harpophylla
  • Biodiversity
  • Brigalow
  • Carbon
  • Natural regeneration
  • Pastoralism
  • Restoration

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