Potential in marine forests

4 May 2011

Photo by Jane Dawber

Emeritus Professor Ben Boer says marine forests could theoretically be included in a country's greenhouse gas inventory alongside terrestrial forests.

Speaking with The Otago Times as the 2011 New Zealand Law Foundation's distinguished visiting fellow, Emeritus Professor Boer says signatories to the Kyoto Protocal can bring greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels in two ways - by reducing emissions through measures such as reduced vehicle use and energy efficiency, and by adopting natural solutions such as planting more trees to absorb emissions.

"Marine forests have huge potential for any country which has a long coastline, but particularly for those such as Australia and New Zealand where naturally-occurring kelp beds already grow."

He adds that trading carbon credits from marine forests was a possibility.

"It seems to me that the system of using remote sensing mapping via satellite [to] measure the amount of carbon in forests from the air ought also to be able to be done in the marine environment."

Emeritus Professor Boer favours "natural solutions" such as protecting land and marine environments and an integrated approach to addressing climate change.

"At the moment, 11.5% of land area globally is protected in some way and the plan is to increase that to 17% over the next nine or so years.

"Less than 1% of the marine environment is protected and the plan is to increase that to 10%.

"The big challenge for environmental policy makers and environmental lawyers is how the achieve those targets.

"It involves politics, economics, economics, science and law."

View the entire article - Potential in marine forests - The Otago Daily Times

Contact: Greg Sherington

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