The rich, wet undisturbed forests of Victoria hold over 2,000 tonnes of carbon per hectare in the above-ground biomass.
These are astronomical numbers that are far larger than the 90 tonnes the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was using as the default value.
The forests of SE Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have an extremely important carbon offset role in a country like Australia, which is one of the biggest coal and iron ore exporters anywhere on the planet.
Professor David Lindenmayer from the ANU says that governments need to rethink the way we use and abuse our forests very quickly, because the carbon value of those forests may well far exceed the value that we’re going to get from selling them to a pulp mill.
Dr Lindenmayer had done a rough calculation from figures used by Westpac Bank and AGL of a very cheap $19 a tonne for carbon. Multiply that by 2,100 tonnes of biomass per hectare in a wet forest in Victoria, then times that by 200,000 hectares of just the tall wet ash forest and it gives you a number close to $8 billion (eight thousand million dollars!). The royalties to the Victorian government from those wet forests in the Central Highlands are tiny in comparison.
Radio National’s Science Show / Jill