Why we protect our forests for 100 years
Thursday 18th of March 2021
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An aerial shot of our forest called battery creek. Showing many different shades of green in the biodiversity of the forest.
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Focused on large-scale native reforestation, Greenfleet is growing forests and growing hope for the future of our climate. While the preparation of our sites, selection of trees and the process of planting is important, it is not the final step.

To guarantee our forests have the best chance of growing for generations to come, we legally protect each and every one for up to 100 years, with an agreement on the land title.

Our forests start sequestering CO2-e from the moment they start growing and they continue to do so over the course of their lives. However, a mature forest captures more carbon as it becomes more established. As trees grow, they have more leaves and a greater surface area that is able to photosynthesise – a vital process in the sequestration of carbon.

Older forests are also able to hold more carbon in their soils as there is more organic materials like leaf litter and fallen branches which can bind more carbon molecules within it to capture and hold more carbon[1].

Another important reason that we protect our forests for so long is to give them the opportunity to provide long term habitat for our much-loved fauna.

Hollows and cavities form in older trees as a result of weathering from lightening, wind, fire, or even decay from termites or fungi. These hollows provide important habitat for hundreds of native Australian animals including the Glossy Black Cockatoo, the Swift Parrot and the Leadbeater Possum. The leaflitter of an established forest also provides habitat for many small animals, insects and fungi all which play a vital role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of the forest.

Over the course of decades, a maturing forest can also enact a process of natural regeneration. This happens when a mature tree produces seeds that go on to become young trees themselves. These saplings grow in the understory of the forest, reaching their way towards the sunlight at the top of the canopy. This cycle of regeneration is a part of the function of a natural forest with the living trees guaranteeing the next generation of thriving plants.

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Greenfleet's forest in South Gippsland, Victoria called Battery Creek. First planted in 1999. 

Sometimes we are asked why we protect our forests for ‘only’ 100 years. We believe 100 years gives our forests a good head start, and we really hope that by the end of this century, the attitudes that enable rapid deforestation will have changed.

There are significant steps we take to apply a legal encumbrance on our forests. We hope our forests will continue to grow for many centuries to come, but in the meantime, we feel confident knowing they will take critical climate action and become well established for many generations.

With the knowledge that we have protected our forests for the first 100 years of their lives, we hope they remain thriving for even longer providing environmental benefits for many more generations.

 

References:

[1] College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State