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Plantation forests could 'drive up emissions' -

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ELEANOR HALL: There's a warning today from two Canberra academics that including plantation forests
in an emissions trading scheme could drive emissions up not down, by encouraging the logging of
native forests.

The researchers say that under the Government's proposed scheme plantation owners are likely to
make more money using plantations for carbon storage rather than for processing wood.

They say that will encourage the forestry industry to turn to native forests, which are able to
store more carbon than plantations.

Sara Everingham has our report.

SARA EVERINGHAM: There are warnings coming from many quarters about the Government's proposed
emissions trading scheme.

The latest is from Dr Judith Ajani a forest economist at the Australian National University.

Her concern is the Government's decision to including plantations in the scheme, she says it will
be counterproductive.

JUDITH AJANI: The effect of the emissions trading scheme with respect to the forestry sector, both
native forests and plantations is potentially to be quite negative from a climate change mitigation
perspective.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Dr Ajani argues that under the proposed emissions trading scheme, plantation
owners are likely to make more money from using plantations for carbon storage rather than for
logging.

She and a colleague at ANU have used a mathematical model to prove their point.

Their research is included in a submission to the Government on its green paper for the Emissions
Trading Scheme.

JUDITH AJANI: We found that plantation growers would need only quite low CO2 prices before they
would receive the equal revenue that, as the alternative of logging a plantation.

So we'd be looking at prices for a hard wood plantation of around $10 to $15 a tonne of CO2 for
plantation growers to be attracted by the carbon market rather than the wood market.

SARA EVERINGHAM: Dr Ajani says that's bad news for native forests. She argues plantations should be
excluded from the ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme).

JUDITH AJANI: If we see a curtailment of plantation processing in Australia, what will happen is we
will revert back into more native forest logging.

SARA EVERINGHAM: In the Government's green paper on the carbon pollution reduction scheme
plantations established since 1990 are able to opt into the scheme.

Dr Ajani says that policy will do little for reducing carbon emissions.

JUDITH AJANI: More native forest logging rather than plantation logging means that we'll have more
emissions, CO2 emissions going up because plantations are less dense in carbon than native forests.

SARA EVERINGHAM: The Australian Conservation Foundation is also concerned.

The group's Tony Mohr says the Government's green paper is too heavily weighted in favour of
industry.

TONY MOHR: The Government's proposed to exclude the clearing of native forests from the emissions
trading scheme but include plantation forestry inside the scheme on an opt in basis. And that means
the industry can make money out of credits, but doesn't have to pay for their pollution from
clearing native forests.

SARA EVERINGHAM: But the National Association of Forest Industries has rejected the research.

CEO Allan Hansard says the proposed scheme won't see more plantations being used for carbon storage
rather than wood processing.

ALLAN HANSARD: I can't see how that would happen because the products we produce from our forests
are carbon stores as well, and if the Government recognises that in the emissions trading scheme it
wouldn't make sense to actually do that at all.

There may be some cases in marginal land areas where, a long way away from wood markets, where
trees could be grown just for carbon, but that would be in those sorts of special case areas only.

SARA EVERINGHAM: On Friday the economist Ross Garnaut will release a report on emissions tradings
targets for Australia.

That's likely to turn attention to the price at which carbon will be set.

ELEANOR HALL: Sara Everingham reporting.

And The World Today's calls to the Climate Change Minister Penny Wong weren't returned on this
issue.