I am very interested in the concept of carbon sequestration credits, and the idea that companies with high emissions can put money towards projects that work to remove carbon out of the atmosphere, namely through planting trees. However, due to my work experience with Dr David Freudenberger and another class member out at Scottsdale Reserve, Bredbo, I realised that I had no idea how the carbon credits were calculated. I had assumed that it was just planting new trees as more money came in, but I learnt that it is a far more complex calculation where the growth rate of the tree is taken into account.
Scottsdale Reserve and Bush Heritage Australia
Scottsdale Reserve is a reserve owned by Bush Heritage Australia, where 300 hectares of the 1300 hectare property were grazed and cropped, and are being restored. The conservation efforts on the property are also to protect the White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grasslands and Natural Temperate Grasslands on the site, which are both listed as Critically Endangered under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
This is where David’s research comes in
In 2014, David and his students planted hundreds of native Acacia and Eucalyptus trees, and Bursaria and Cassinia shrubs, to see which would be able to grow in Scottsdale’s climate.
Bush Heritage Australia is now looking to raise funds to help manage Scottsdale by selling carbon credits and so has asked David if the trees that he planted would be suitable for using to store carbon, as well as asking David to help calculate how many carbon credits they would be able to sell.
Monitoring and evaluating biodiversity outcomes
Our work with David was then to help monitor and evaluate the success of the plantings from 2014, by walking along 100-metre transects, evaluating the health of the trees, and measuring them.
The health of the trees was a scale of 2 – 0, with 2 being healthy, and 0 being dead, with some trees landing a “Gone” status, where we couldn’t even find remnants of them. The measurements of the trees were then at diameter at breast height (DBH), or basal diameter, depending on how tall the trees were, using callipers.
The future of Scottsdale
David will now use the data that we collected to look at which trees and shrubs survived, and potentially thrived, and how much they grew, and those that didn’t. The shrubs didn’t fare so well compared to the Eucalyptus and Acacia trees, particularly Eucalyptus melliodora, E. rubida, and E. bridgesiana and Acacia rubida, and so David can now tell Scottsdale that if they wish to pursue carbon credits, those are better options for plantings than the Cassinia longifolia or Bursaria spinosa.
The day spent with David taught me about the measurements that need to be collected to calculate the viability, and amount, of carbon credits that can be sold from a property, and how monitoring and evaluating biodiversity outcomes, a concept from class, can be applied to the wider world. Not only are carbon credits being looked at on Scottsdale Reserve, but in using native vegetation to store the carbon, the initiative is also helping to restore the threatened ecological communities on the property.