In 2011, two Australian environmentalist millionaires, Wotif.com co-founder Graeme Wood and Kathmandu clothing brand founder Jan Cameron bought what was then the largest woodchip factory in the world. world and infuriated both the state government and the local logging industry into shutting it down.
Wood was shameless.
“I think it’s time to move on. I’m interested in the future, I’m interested in economic development [and] Tasmania badly needs it,” he told the ABC at the time. “I see this as the most effective way to achieve this.”
What he may not have known was that their decision to shut down the Triabunna plant wrought a “profound and unheard-of miracle”, said one of Australia’s most acclaimed scientists. Herald and age yesterday.
According to a scientific paper published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters by Professors Brendan Mackey and Lindenmeyer of Griffith University, the closure of Triabunna meant that in the years that followed, Tasmania was one of the first jurisdictions in the world to become not only net zero, but carbon negative.
Unlike mainland Australia, Tasmania is primarily dependent on hydroelectric power. As a result, Mackey explained, the main cause of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions was logging in native forests. When old-growth forests were logged, massive amounts of carbon were released into the atmosphere.
These must be accounted for in the inventories of greenhouse gas emissions. But jurisdictions can also remove from the inventory the amount of carbon stored in undisturbed state forests. The rules governing this accounting are complicated and murky, Mackey said.
Last year, Mackey and Lindenmeyer began sifting through Tasmania’s emissions inventories over the past decade, and they then compared them to the amount of land in state forests that was no longer disturbed as a result of the closure of Triabunna Mill.