5 December 2012

The University of Queensland has planted almost 2000 trees at the Gatton campus in a project that will help to protect a critically endangered ecosystem and offset UQ’s carbon footprint.

The planting took place on Wednesday, 28 November 2012.

Dr Paul Dargusch, from The School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, said the project was the first in a series planned at UQ which are designed to not only achieve great sustainability outcomes but also create ‘living laboratories’.

“The planting will provide a hands-on demonstration of how carbon offset projects can be designed and implemented, for students studying environmental markets and carbon management,” Dr Dargusch said.

Dr Dargusch lectures in carbon management at UQ and will be using the site as part of his teaching.

“As the trees grow, they sequester greenhouse gas emissions, and will offset an average of 16 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year,” he said.

“In addition to the teaching benefits, this project delivers a field site for researchers seeking to understand how to better restore biodiversity, or the way carbon dioxide is sequestered in a landscape.”

The project has been made possible through SEQ Catchments and the GreenWorks Program in partnership with UQ’s Property & Facilities division and over 50 volunteer staff and students.

The planting will include more than 3,000 trees when completed and will help restore the critically endangered Swamp Tea-tree (Melaleuca irbyana), a vegetation community found only in South East Queensland.

UQ’s Deputy Director of Property and Facilities Geoff Dennis said there is less than 1,000 hectares of remnant forest remaining which is only 8 per cent of its historical extent, and most is fragmented into small patches less than half a hectare in size.

“This planting will mean that the area of forest at UQ will extend over 5 hectares when complete, creating a large and more resilient patch of Swamp Tea-tree forest,” Mr Dennis said.

“The planting will also be registered under the Carbon Farming Initiative, which will enable UQ to generate carbon credits to help offset its carbon emissions.”