A new discussion paper released today by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows how Australian farmers and foresters, two groups most vulnerable to climate change, can shift from having a negative to a positive impact on climate change.
“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” a joint project between BZE and The University of Melbourne's Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute provides a way for Australian farmers to reduce carbon pollution, and bring young people back to regional centres with new employment opportunities.
“Changing land use practices will slash carbon pollution and can provide an alternative income stream for farmers” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave.
"The frequency and severity of the extreme weather we used to see were nothing compared to what we've seen in the past decade,” said John Pettigrew, former director of SPC Ltd. and current President of the Goulburn Valley Environment Group.
"Our farmers, given time, can adapt to changing conditions. We can reduce carbon emissions on-farm, move towards sustainable farming systems and even play a major role in producing renewable energy for our urban centres," said Mr Pettigrew.
The land use sector is one of the highest carbon polluting sectors of Australia’s economy - emissions may even be as high as 54% of total national emissions.
“Making changes to land management practices and technologies such as savannah burning, clearfell logging and land clearing for agriculture can turn that around,” said report researcher Andrew Longmire.
“Carbon storage in Australian native forests is underestimated by a factor of up to four or five, meaning that logging is having a much higher impact on the climate than previously recognised. Research has shown the native forests of south-east Australia can sequester 7,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide if left to recover from clearfell logging. That’s equivalent to more than 10 years of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions” said Mr Bygrave.
“As the country braces for worsening drought and bushfires this summer, BZE is reaching out to farmers and other landholders to tackle climate change in a way that maximises the productivity and the health of their land, and breathes life back into their communities” said Mr Bygrave.
“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” is available on our website at: http://media.bze.org.au/lur High resolution images from the report can be downloaded at: http://media.bze.org.au/lur-media.
John Pettigrew and Stephen Bygrave are available for interview.
Genevieve Wauchope 0431 465 952