Biochar and Energy from Trees
University of Adelaide
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
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In the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, Alcoa Foundation is funding a biochar and bioenergy project conducted by Greening Australia, The University of Adelaide, CSIRO Ecosystem Services and other partners. The project aims to harness the opportunity provided by emerging carbon markets to revegetate vast tracts of land within one of Australia's 15 nationally recognized biodiversity hotspots.
Loss of biodiversity and elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are two significant problems arising from the widespread clearing of land for agriculture throughout much of Australia. New opportunities to counter this problem are emerging through the development of carbon markets. These opportunities include carbon markets for bioenergy (renewable energy derived from biological sources) and biosequestration (the capture and storage of atmospheric carbon by biological processes). The demand for bioenergy and biosequestration of carbon represent potentially powerful new market forces that can harness the reforestation of vast areas of land.
While farmers located within the project area recognize the importance of resilient, sustainable landscapes, there is currently little in the way of market drivers available to fund the significant change required to achieve such landscapes. Without this investment, the trajectory of environmental health indicators, such as water quality and biodiversity will continue to decline. Emerging carbon and bioenergy markets present a potential driver for change, but if not well managed, market mechanisms could potentially deliver negative outcomes, such as monocultures of tree crops, which have deleterious social and environmental effects.
Through the strategic restoration of mixed native species plantations, researchers are developing and applying models for new integrated land uses that:
- Enhance the productivity of land
- Decrease atmospheric carbon dioxide
- Enhance biodiversity
The research will be couched within a visionary large-scale landscape transformation program called Habitat 141, which aims to restore ecological function within productive farming landscapes across 700 kms straddling South Australia and Victoria.
Visit the Greening Australia webpage dedicated to this program: