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Ben 03-23-2011 11:52 PM

Paper- Carbon in the semi-arid mulga lands
Carbon sequestration and biodiversity restoration potential of semi-arid mulga lands of Australia interpreted from long-term grazing exclosures

G. Bradd Witta, Michelle V. NoŽla, Michael I Bird, R.J.S.(Bob) Beetona, Neal W. Menzies

Limited data regarding soil carbon (C) sequestration potential and biosequestration potential in arid and semi-arid environments is an impediment to appropriate policy formulation directed at greenhouse gas abatement. This paper assesses the terrestrial C biosequestration and biodiversity restoration potential of the semi-a arid mulga lands of eastern Australia by measuring above and below ground C, and by making floristic biodiversity assessments in old grazing exclosures.

Grazing exclusion increased water infiltration rates and water retention capacity in the soil. Exclosures also had increased herbaceous cover and decreased bareground. Biodiversity benefits included higher species richness and increased abundance of native grasses, many of which have become locally rare under increased grazing pressure.

The study indicates that in the absence of grazing, soil and above ground biomass, when combined, has potential carbon sequestration rates of between 0.92 and 1.1t CO2-e ha−1 year−1 over a period of approximately 40 years. The contribution to these figures from soil C sequestration is approximately 0.18t CO2-e ha−1 year−1, with above ground biomass contributing an additional 0.73–0.91 tCO2-e ha−1 year−1. If 50% of eastern Australia’s mulgalands (half of 25.4 million ha) were managed for C sequestration and biodiversity through the control of all herbivores, then annual sequestration rates could reach between 11.6 and 14Mt CO2-e year−1 which is between 2and 2.5% of Australia’s annual emissions. The potential to sequester carbon and improve biodiversity out comes in extensive semi arid grazing lands will require significant policy shifts to encourage and reward necessary landuse change.

© 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Gus Whyte 05-05-2011 07:40 PM

Short term
I agree with the paper and this does work in the short term <10 years, as the environment changes management needs to change too. Perrenial grasses are disturbance dependant, so only remove grazing long term from country that you don't want perrenial grasses. Science says that grasses remove more carbon than trees, so I know what I'm doing.:)

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