“Within the Wet Tropics region the key areas for current and future biodiversity also have high carbon storage and sequestration potential.” (Dr. April Reside)
Future Carbon Investment Opportunities
With broader recognition and a better understanding of the likely implications of climate change, the future will see an increase in activities which invest in extracting carbon from the atmosphere such as planting trees.
An important role for the Wet Tropics Plan for People and Country is to help direct any investment for carbon storage and sequestration to the region and ensure it provides the greatest benefit to our environment and community.
In fact, this was one of the key drivers for the review of Regional NRM Plans across Australia, through the NRM Planning for Climate Change Fund.
Given the exceptional values of this region, funds for carbon sequestration provide a great opportunity to highlight other benefits such as our biodiversity, water quality and agriculture.
Prioritising for Carbon AND Biodiversity
Given the wonderful warm and wet tropical climate, trees grow incredibly fast in this region. It is no surprise then, that it holds high potential for carbon sequestration through activities such as tree planting.
As part of this plan review process, researchers have used the latest scientific climate projections to find the best areas for planting trees which support current and future biodiversity as well as to sequester carbon. The research answered several important questions:
- Where in the Wet Tropics can you get the best result when investing for carbon sequestration (based on Forest Productivity Index data)?
- Given the current AND future climate conditions for our region, where is it best to invest in habitat protection and restoration to safeguard our biodiversity values? The analysis considered where we can best protect the most species, but also the most vulnerable species.
- If you put these two pieces of information together, where do they overlap?
The places providing the highest carbon sequestration potential AND the best options for biodiversity should be considered the highest priorities.
Many of these areas will also deliver water quality benefits, as connectivity is most often established along waterways.
One of the very useful conclusions from this research is that prioritising areas for habitat restoration based on their importance for biodiversity will also have substantial benefits for carbon sequestration.
However, if you only consider areas that have a high carbon potential, there is no guarantee of a quality biodiversity outcome.
Explore the data further using our Carbon and Climate DIY mapping tool.