Accounting for carbon – the Climate change challenge

Coinciding with the Federal government releasing its emissions reductions(?) fund white paper, Bega Valley Shire Council has released its draft climate change strategy. The major difference between the two is that while the white paper provides data at a national scale, on emissions from agriculture and landuse for example, council’s strategy only considers its activities.

The white paper estimates national emissions at 555 MtCO2-e, with 18% produced from agriculture and landuse and 4% from waste. The strategy indicates total council emissions are 30,178 tonnes CO2e-, with two thirds of this estimated to come from waste (landfill).

About 65% of the shire (407,800 ha) is either National park, State forest or other crown land, but information on emissions, and carbon sequestration, on these lands is lacking.

The strategy refers to ‘Biophysical resilience’ suggesting “Council will also support other agencies’ programs as appropriate (e.g. NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Threatened Species Priority Action Statement).” However, while there is a bell-miner associated die-back statement, there is no OE&H statement about extensive canopy die-back, during dry weather and drought, despite the available information.

For example, the ongoing CSIRO studies in Bago State forest, found Mountain Ash forests produced 0.5 t/ha of CO2 during drought. Despite Forestry’s claim that dying trees were natural thinning of regrowth, tree mortality was found to be consistently higher in all size classes during dry periods. To be fair, this was the first occassion this form of dieback was observed in these forests, where there are no Bell-miners.

BVS fire hazard

Based on Council’s fire hazard classification in the map above, and Pacific ocean movements suggesting a potential ‘El nino’ event later in the year, the next summer could bring significant threats to forests.

Council’s strategy does suggest that “Addressing climate change also involves creating and maintaining long-term, sustainable, ecosystems”. So perhaps the NSW Government may get on board, given it’s likely emissions from forests greatly exceed Council’s during dry weather, and that’s before accounting for logging and burning.

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