Victoria Leading the Way for a Low-Carbon Future

The South Australian state of Victoria has become the first in the world to effectively inventory the amount of carbon stored in its public forests, parks and reserves using a carbon accounting system proposed by the Australian government’s cap-and-trade system.

“This new information will help Victorian landowners to enter the carbon market, identify reforestation sites and measure carbon on their own land,” said Victoria Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings.

Releasing the research in Los Angeles at the California Governor’s Climate Change Summit, Mr. Jennings encouraged his own government to consider this new evidence about the carbon storage and emissions from public land in the design of Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

The modelling results show that Victoria’s public land holds the equivalent of 3,031 million (U.S.) tons of carbon dioxide—or 23 years of Victoria’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Victorian Government strongly supports the Commonwealth’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme,” Mr. Jennings said. “By measuring our state’s carbon with the Commonwealth’s proposed carbon accounting system, we can make more informed decisions about our natural resources and reforestation projects in Victoria in the future.

” The Vic LandCarbon project takes into account how bushfire, fuel-reduction burning and harvesting impact levels of carbon stored on public land.

“In the past we have estimated the carbon dioxide emissions from large scale bushfires, but we now can pinpoint how much carbon is emitted by bushfires compared with the carbon that is captured during the regeneration process,” Mr. Jennings added.

From this Australia-first modelling, Victoria officials now know that carbon dioxide emissions generated from the February 2009 bushfires on public land exceeded 9.4 million (U.S.) tons.

“The modelling also shows that bushfires in Victoria over the last decade have emitted over 70 million tonnes (77 tons) of carbon dioxide,” Mr. Jennings added.

The results found that over an extended period of time, planned burning can reduce the severity of bushfires, lessening the amount of emissions generated by bushfire.

The Victoria government is building information and science to consider the carbon asset of its public land to drive green jobs and future investment in carbon storage on both public and private land.

“Victoria’s forests will continue to deliver the resources we depend on such as timber, biodiversity and recreation, while reducing the state’s carbon footprint to deliver a healthy future,” Mr. Jennings said.

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[Source: Australian government press release]