Carbon, koalas and the culture of unquestioning acceptance

Coinciding with the start of the NPWS’s proposed 50,000 hectares of fuel reduction burns in its Southern Region this year, Biogeosciences have released research titled ‘The Australian terrestrial carbon budget’ finding ‘Gross fire emissions account for 6% of continental Net Primary Production’ (NPP)

While much of this comes from burning grasslands the authors quote earlier work (Graetz, 2002) and suggest ” . . .For non-clearing fires, NPP simulated using BIOS2 in the absence of fire was assumed applicable under a recurring fire regime, because most Australian landscapes are resilient, with regrowth commencing after the first post-fire rainfall”

Some of the research data comes carbon-flux towers monitoring atmospheric conditions in several Oz forests, the closest being in Bago SF near Tumbarumba, however what is missing from the research, because it is yet to be adequately acknowledged, is data on changes to forest carbon carrying capacity.

One of the purposes of the towers is to ‘study the ecophysiological processes and rates of C accumulation of a commercially important, high-productivity forest.’ from which forest growth rate models can be developed but, before growth models can confidently employed actual data on trees and their condition is required to validate model inputs within an appropriate geographical stratification.

In that regard and following up on concerns about unsustainable timber commitments, I’ve written to the NSW Auditor General pointing out that Forests NSW was given the methodology and the money to implement a credible forest inventory in Eden but it unilaterally decided not to abide by the Regional Forest Agreements. Hence, unless FNSW’s non-compliance is aided by a culture of unquestioning acceptance in the NSW Government, there should be some uncertainty about the capacity to achieve timber supply contracts.

The NPWS should also maintain a forest inventory, so that management actions like broad-acre burning, particularly when it’s very dry and there is a high fire danger rating, can be proven to maintain biodiversity, increase forest resilience and carbon carrying capacity.

Similarly the Catchment Management Authority should be considering private land management in the same way, subject of the next post but in the interim my thanks go to the closely associated Far South Coast Conservation Management Network for the latest wombat gate design, the first of around 20 required pictured below

While putting this gate in, on the south eastern corner of the exclosure in Compartment 3179, I found some Koala pellets under a Woollybutt between the fence and the road, so some overhead access is also required and the government’s koala exclusion areas, if they still exist, may need more ‘re-jigging’.





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