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Government Should Account for Forest Carbon

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Tags: Forests, Tasmanian Forest Agreement, Climate Change

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Forests spokesperson

We welcome updated carbon accounting on the potential climate and monetary value of Tasmania’s forests, in a report produced by TreeMod and released today by The Wilderness Society.

It's clear there is enormous value in protecting the carbon in our high conservation value and mature forests, but there is also a market for this carbon and a potential income stream for the State.  What is required now is leadership. 

The new carbon accounting assessment builds on the large body of work commissioned by the previous Labor Green government, when a Greens’ Minister for Climate Change commissioned the groundbreaking Forest Carbon Study. 

That, of course, was in an era where Tasmania had a Minister for Climate Change. 

Released in 2012, the Forest Carbon Study found that Tasmania’s native forests are a massive carbon sink with significant potential to bring returns to the State on involuntary and voluntary carbon markets. 

The updated forest carbon work focuses on the almost 400 000 hectares that were set aside for reserves under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, which is now threatened for future logging as Future Potential Production Forest (FPPF) under the Liberals’ woeful and divisive excuse for a forest policy.

We need State and Federal governments to work together to keep the carbon stored in these Tasmanian forests safe, and to develop the avoided logging methodology that would enable the State to derive an economic benefit, on behalf of all Tasmanians.  

These native forests, initially set aside under the TFA for their high conservation value and now vulnerable, are highly valuable carbon banks.  In an age of accelerating climate change, they must not be logged.

The TreeMod report confirms what we've long known, that Tasmania’s old forests are worth more standing.

We encourage Forests Minister and Treasurer Gutwein to stop viewing these carbon rich and biodiverse forests as ‘wood banks’ and instead recognise they’re globally valuable carbon banks that can earn more money for Tasmania than a dying, heavily subsidised native forest logging industry.

He needs work with his Canberra colleagues to develop a methodology for accounting for the cessation of timber harvesting in forests, so Tasmania can begin monetising the benefits of the carbon in the forests that were once set aside for logging, but need to be protected for the carbon storage capacity.