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The Environment

Greenhouse

Greenhouse gases are a natural part of of the atmosphere.

They trap the sun's warmth and maintain the earth's surface temperature at a level necessary to support life.

Human activities associated with the industrial era are increasing the concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere, and this is seen as a major contributor to observed changes in our climate.

Forestry is the only Australian industry sector that stores more greenhouse gases than it releases. By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, forests, forestry, and the use of wood products are assisting to mitigate climate change.

Forests in Australia store an estimated 10.5 billion tonnes of carbon and remove almost 38.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere equating to approximately 70 times Australia's annual net greenhouse gas emissions.

Combined, Australia's forest plantations and wood products store approximately 323 tonnes of carbon, of which wood products store in excess of 230 million tonnes of carbon.

The rate and extent to which trees sequester carbon is influenced by many factors including species, site quality, climate and management.

Trees sequester carbon more rapidly during their peak growing years, generally early in their life cycle.

For example, a 100-year-old native regrowth forest could be expected to have absorbed about 60 per cent of its expected total carbon in the first 50 years.

Emissions from land use, land use change and forestry have dropped significantly since 1990, falling from 120.4 to 25.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

This is due to growth in the nation's plantation estate and significant reduction in land clearing.

Growth of managed forets and plantations provided a greenhouse sink of 79.1 Mt in 2001, more than offsetting the 56.5 Mt emissions from harvesting and collecting fuel wood.

No other industry sector in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory acts as a positive carbon sink.

For more information on carbon and Australia's forests please refer to the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation report.

Download: Forests, Wood and Australia's Carbon Balance (PDF)

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