An Australian National University study found that “untouched natural forests store three times more carbon dioxide than previously estimated and 60 percent more than plantation forests”. It would have been more effective to have reduced clear cutting in the first place.
Reported by CBC News:
VANCOUVER, B.C. (CBC News) Sunday, April 5, 2009 | 4:47 PM PT —
A B.C. government initiative to plant trees as a way to offset
greenhouse gas emissions is facing criticism from environmentalists.
The provincial government is looking to spend up to $5 million on
projects to plant trees or make existing ones grow faster through
fertilizer and other means.
The idea is that trees remove carbon from the atmosphere as they
grow, and that that reduction in greenhouse gases can make up for
pollution from whoever pays for the offset.
The program will be used to offset emissions from the public sector and the 2010 Winter Olympics.
However, Nicholas Heap of the Vancouver-based David Suzuki
Foundation is critical of carbon credit schemes based on tree planting.
It can take decades for the trees to grow enough to make a
difference, he said, and the trees will eventually rot and release the
greenhouse gas back into the atmosphere.
“Environmentalists like ourselves have been talking about the
wonderful myriad benefits of trees and planting forests,” Heap said.
“But when you’re planting trees primarily or only as a carbon
offset, we’re not playing to the greatest strength of trees. There are
other means of producing offsets that actually out-compete planting
Forests Minister Pat Bell vowed B.C. would make sure its carbon credits meet a high standard.
“We only want to do things that we can scientifically defend, that
can be accounted for and that people support and know is a very real
carbon offset,” Bell said.
“We can either… help make the rules and ensure that the rules are
open, transparent and accountable, or you can let someone else develop
the rules. For my money I’d rather be the ones that are driving the bus
[in] developing the rules.”
Bell said B.C.’s forests have the potential to keep millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
But Heap said the province would be better off investing in other
projects, like ones that reduce the use of fossil fuels, to offset
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