NRM Planning for Climate Change

mangrove

Mangroves and marine communities help mitigate against damage from severe weather events such as cyclones and storm surge.

Reef Catchments has made significant progress in compiling spatial data for the region to determine potential future risks and vulnerabilities with climate change.

RPS East Group were engaged to deliver a series of products that included conducting an audit of the existing carbon sinks in the region. FullCAM (Full Carbon Accounting Model) is the model used by the Australian government to construct Australia’s national greenhouse gas emissions accounts for the land sector.

The model is an integration of biomass, decomposition, soil carbon models and accounting tools. It can be used to construct a picture of existing carbon stores in different vegetation types in a region and likely carbon accumulation rates over time. RPS used FullCAM to generate the status of carbon storage as of 2013 for the MWI NRM region’s vegetation types which is presented below:

Vegetation Type

Area (ha)

Average C sink

(T C)

Eucalypt Woodlands

163,112.69

20,796,868

Eucalypt Open Forests

149,002.29

19,742,803

Rainforests and Vine Thickets

136,255.12

14,988,063

Mangroves

32,520.65

4,390,288

Melaleuca Forests and Woodlands

21,990.68

2,913,765

Acacia Forests and Woodlands

8,916.97

1,159,206

Low Closed Forests and Tall Closed Shrublands

4,720.55

755,288

Other Shrublands

3,521.38

572,225

Other Grasslands, Herblands, Sedgelands and Rushlands

(not in FullCAM pasture grass used)

4,788.70

299,294

Tussock grasslands

(not in FullCAM pasture grass used)

1,465.84

91,615

Other Open Woodlands

273.55

23,252

Casuarina Forests and Woodlands

149.53

19,439

Heathlands

98.35

15,982

Unclassified native vegetation

99.46

13,676

Eucalypt Tall Open Forests

32.13

3,615

Chenopod Shrublands, Samphire Shrublands and Forblands

12.06

1,960

Total

937,429.05

65,787,338

In general, carbon content is highest in forest type communities such as Eucalypt forests, rainforests and Melaleuca communities. The current carbon sink  (biomass and soils) in the region (as of 2013) is estimated at around 65 gigatonnes of carbon or 241 gigatonnes of sequestered CO2.

It should be noted that the FullCAM methodology may underestimate carbon stores associated with mangroves and marine plant communities. This is because the methodology does not consider carbon stored by seagrass communities and only models the carbon in the top 30 cms of soil beneath mangroves.  Other research has found that by considering the top 1m of soil beneath mangroves the estimated carbon store is increased tenfold.

These mangrove and marine communities are also important because they mitigate against damage from severe weather events such as cyclones and storm surge.

This work has provided Reef Catchments and the community with an estimate of the carbon currently stored in our natural systems.  It also emphasises the importance of maintaining and enhancing these areas to prevent the potential release of COand other greenhouse gases and to assist in mitigating other climate change impacts.

For more information contact Robyn Bell (Climate & Landscape Systems coordinator) on robyn.bell@reefcatchments.com or 0488 733 121.

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