Carbon Sequestration - Protect Our Winters Australia

Carbon

Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration

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Soils in the Australian Alps have high organic material and carbon content, making them important national carbon sinks.

Collaborative research is underway to appropriately classify soils in the Australian Alps and accurately calculate their carbon storage.

Increased temperatures and reduced precipitation will exacerbate organic soil loss by changing decomposition rates. This will reduce carbon storage and increase bushfire risk in the Alps.

“Climate fires” or “megafires” threaten to unbalance the relationship between the carbon emitted during bushfires and the carbon reabsorbed during post-bushfire regrowth. If this occurs, it will create a negative reinforcing loop of climate change impacts and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Summary

Enhancing carbon storage in organic soils and wetlands is best achieved by actively reducing disturbances and promoting water retention. It is outside the scope of this report to detail all possible actions to reduce disturbances and promote water retention, and many of these are outlined in the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens Recovery
Plan.

By way of summary, evidence suggests the most effective way to actively reduce disturbances is to remove hoofed animals, including feral horses,
from the high country region. High country flora, including grasslands, Snow Gums, and alpine ash trees are also important storers of carbon, although the exact amount is unknown. This is an area for further research that a team at the Australian National University (ANU) is currently undertaking, as understanding how much carbon high country flora sequesters will inform how bushfires, vegetation loss, and Snow Gum dieback may impact carbon storage.

Recommendations

Enhance carbon storage in the Australian Alps’ organic soils by reducing disturbances and promoting water retention. There are a suite of management actions that may be appropriate (particularly peat bog restoration), but any action should include the removal of hoofed animals from the high country region.

Conduct further research to determine carbon storage amounts and how much carbon high country flora sequesters, as this will inform what the impact of increased bushfires or dieback might be on global carbon levels.

Download this section

This page is a summary of the ‘Carbon Sequestration’ section from the report Our Changing Snowscapes: Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps.

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Protect Our Winters Australia acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live, work and play. We pay respects to the Elders, past, present and future, across the many Nations. Their ancestral ties to country have never been extinguished, and sovereignty never ceded.

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