Tree planting and land management changes can meet
several sustainability goals including restoration or creation of habitats, supporting biodiversity and providing carbon sequestration.
We aim to address gaps in our knowledge of carbon sequestration. For example we are investigating how the addition of clay to sandy soils could lead to the additional, permanent sequestration of up to 1 billion tonnes of CO2 in Australia. This research will integrate laboratory and field studies with modelling to determine the amount of additional carbon that can be stored in Australian agricultural soils by the addition of clay and how this can be optimised.
Similarly, to really know how much carbon we store when regenerating bushland we need to quantify and predict carbon variation over entire landscapes. This requires us to understand how replanted bush interacts with soil, carbon stores in the soil, as well as the carbon stored in actual planted trees and roots. We further need to predict the permanence of this bushland, resilience to impacts like bushfire as well as how we can best enhance our efforts so that the bush is more resilient to climate change. Our Green Carbon program aims to understand this - the big picture of bush regeneration.
At the same time we also need workable financial mechanisms to abate greenhouse gas emissions. For example, deforestation which contributes a large proportion of total global emissions, must be avoided. Doing so can also help to alleviate biodiversity loss and poverty. However, incentives to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) have had mixed and suboptimal success because of opportunity costs, administrative and technical issues.
We offer a solution built on a proven insurance-based hedging principle, a concept we call iREDD, that could indirectly address specific technical and administrative challenges, whether real or contrived. iREDD acts as both an incentive for prudent forest management given the seller's potential financial windfall if forests are diligently managed, and guarantees not to disenfranchise the buyer.
Through these other projects, the Environment Institute understands that achieving our longer-term objectives is dependent upon the continuing improvement of practices and effective guidelines and relationships between researchers and industry.