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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Carbon huddles deep in the forest

Australia's old-growth forests can store up to five times more carbon than previously thought, scientists say, as they warn that natural forests are crucial in the worldwide fight against climate change.

A study on the role of natural forests in carbon storage has found that unlogged natural eucalypt forests in Australia's south-east store about 640 tonnes of carbon a hectare, while intact old-growth forests in Victoria and Tasmania store up to 1200 tonnes a hectare.

The study was carried out by the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

The report's co-author, Professor Brendan Mackey, said the leading world climate change body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, had got carbon storage levels wrong.

The scientific body said the average carbon stock in temperate forests was 217 tonnes a hectare.

The report by Professor Brendan Mackey, Heather Keith, Sandra Berry and David Lindenmayer found that natural forests stored almost three times as much carbon as plantations did.

Professor Mackey said, ''Protecting the carbon in Australia's and the world's natural forests is no longer an option: it is a necessity.''

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