Climate change is the greatest environmental threat facing the world today. It threatens to have a major, adverse impact on both the natural world and human society.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that if no remedial action is taken to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, global temperatures could rise between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade by 2100.
Carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas in terms of climate change – the primary sources are fossil fuel combustion, agriculture and forest degradation.
Forests plan an important role in the global carbon cycle – about 60 billion tonnes is exchanged between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere annually forming what is referred to as a carbon sink. Any significant reduction in this sink would dramatically impact on global warming.
Carbon management, including forest conservation and restoration, agro forestry, afforestation and improved agricultural practices play an important role in reducing the impact of climate change.
It is possible to quantify the amount of carbon being absorbed and stored in a growing forest by measuring the mass of vegetation and the organic matter in the soils. It is possible to accurately measure the impact that forests have on the relationship between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere.
These calculations must take into account variables in soils, forest and soil types and the end use of accumulated wood products.