OPINION: Money can grow on trees

By Brian Page

I NOTE calls from the forestry industry to plant a billion new trees and the issue of water rights, plus opportunities for our most important industry.

Carbon credits is a core issue and one recent and accurate estimate is that an average sized tree over a 50 year life produces oxygen worth about $30,000 in today’s money or about $600 per tree each year.

But forest trees being much larger with typical tree life 25 years produce much more oxygen, perhaps double and a conservative $900 a tree per annum equates to an annual carbon value (or oxygen value) for a billion trees of at least $900b per annum.

Trees are by far the biggest reducers of carbon dioxide, well above normal crops – and unlike farm animals, do not produce a major environmental problem of methane gas.

Such plantings counteract major vandalism, such as extensive forest clearing by farmers in Queensland and forest loss all over this planet, driven by population growth, is a prime cause of major environmental issues such as desertification, reduced rainfall and climate change.

Trees using water changes a lot annually and is the cause of annual growth rings and water use is counteracted by forests cooling the atmosphere and strong evidence supports that large forest areas cause more rain to fall, which must be considered in forest water licence estimates, currently over-estimating actual water use and supports the idea of a major review of water licensing for forests.

Brian Page,
Mount Gambier