Binalong Carbon Project
Carbon cycling and storage in a grazing landscape
HMLG engaged a researcher from the Australian National University to assess how much carbon the Binalong livestock and grazing community were taking out of the atmosphere, and how much they were releasing through their activities.
Data collected from the Binalong community was compared with the natural carbon dynamics for the region
In 2011, members of the Binalong community were surveyed to understand the carbon dynamics of the Binalong farming area. This data was compared against the natural carbon dynamics for the region, which was obtained as part of a separate project in 1997. Objectives of this work focused on the region’s potential to minimise local emissions, while boosting its capacity to contribute to the global effort to restore and maintain the overall carbon balance.
Approximately 1.68 million tonne carbon was found to be stored in the Binalong landscape. This is an area of over 41,000 hectares
Of this, about 76% was in the form of soil carbon, 16.7% in trees, 6.9% in grassland and 0.3% in newly planted trees. Rainfall over the fourteen year period varied markedly including 9 years of below average rainfall (from 2001-2009). As a result of this prolonged dry period, many trees died and new plantings failed.
The Binalong community was found to have a net carbon sequestration rate of 4.13 tonne per hectare
The amount of carbon stored in trees fell significantly as a direct result of the drought. However, in 2011 (a year with about average rainfall) total sequestration of atmospheric carbon per hectare for the region was approximately 9.45 tonne carbon, while total emissions were 5.32 tonne carbon per hectare.
The natural or baseline carbon dynamics in Binalong was established in 1997
The NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation developed a management plan for the region at the request of the Binalong Landcare Group in 1997. The plan documented the vegetation cover and productive capacity at that time. It also proposed remedial action to address soil degradation (salinity and acidification) and erosion, including a significant program of tree planting. The 1997 work provided a baseline for this project, enabling the impact on local carbon balance of remedial actions undertaken post this date to be assessed.