Trees worth their weight in carbon

Sunday 20 June, 2010

At Chereninup Creek Reserve, a forest of young trees take their place in the conversation about carbon.

Chereninup Crrek 2010After: Chereninup Creek in 2010. Photo: Al Dermer

Ben Carr is a happy man when he's surrounded by trees. And when Ben, our Landscape Partnerships Team Leader, visited Chereninup Creek Reserve in WA recently, that's exactly what he was: surrounded by trees.

If he had stood in the same spot when Bush Heritage purchased the reserve in 2002, the scene would have been entirely different. Where the trees now stand was once an empty, environmentally barren paddock.

Each of those trees  – eucalypts, melaleucas, wattles and casuarinas  – were carefully chosen and planted back in 2003 as part of Bush Heritage's first broadscale ecological restoration planting.

Now just seven years later, the trees are not only increasing native animal populations but they're also worth their weight in ... carbon.

Bush Heritage's first carbon analysis report published in March reveals the restoration has stored 2200 tonnes of CO2 equivalent to date, or enough to offset the annual carbon emissions of 157 average households.

Even better news is that as the revegetation grows, the rate of carbon capture is expected to increase such that in the next 13 years (2010–2023) an additional 5,800 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (equal to the annual carbon emissions of 414 households) will be captured, and ultimately we can expect twice that amount by the time the revegetation is mature.

"Although we have no current plans to trade carbon credits," says Ben, "the measurement is an exciting recognition of the carbon storage benefit of the revegetation and restoration work occurring in Western Australia's Gondwana Link Project."

Preparing the land for planting treesPreparing the land for planting in 2003. Photo: Amanda Keesing

"The primary aim of our ecological restoration will always be to protect and recover our unique species, but having a carbon storage measure for that restoration gives us great currency to inform others about the added benefits of carbon storage.

A lot of research is going into carbon sequestering and the wider community is paying attention. We can now promote our work to a broader audience, including those who pay particular attention to the benefits of carbon storage."

The carbon report marks a coming of age for Chereninup Reserve, purchased in 2002 for its rich and diverse habitats, despite the large plot of empty land which came as part of the package.

Bush Heritage supporters got behind the project and enabled us to nurse this degraded land back to health. The project was a landmark case for Bush Heritage: ecological restoration has been carried out on several of our reserves as part of the Gondwana Link Project, but Chereninup is the first property to bear the fruits of broadscale restoration.

By Bron Willis

Your support helped us to plant these trees on Chereninup Creek Reserve – why not pay a visit to see how they're growing? Chereninup is one of four Bush Heritage reserves open to self-guided day trips.

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