Wannon Water Biosequestration Project
Written by Network Member: Brad Henderson, Wannon Water
Blue Mallee tree at 6 months old – near Donald (northwest Victoria)
Wannon Water has made significant progress on its sustainability journey since first developing a Sustainability Strategy in 2008. The Corporation's progress has included a focus on energy and carbon management. Specifically, we have established a target to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2013 from a 2006/07 baseline. This requires an annual reduction of approximately 3,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e).
To help meet this target, Wannon Water has established a project to plant over 540,000 Blue Mallee trees which, based on modelling, will capture and store approximately 190,000 tonnes of CO2e over 50 years. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 316 Victorian homes or 840 cars, and the project provides for long term net reductions in carbon emissions.
Blue Mallee trees (Eucalyptus polybractea) are a robust species that store significant amounts of carbon in their root matter. As the trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store carbon within their leaves, stem, wood, bark and roots. Extensive research has been invested in the capabilities of this species to store carbon, providing greater confidence in carbon accounting. Provided eligibility requirements are met, sequestered carbon can be converted to an equivalent amount of carbon credits. By surrendering these credits to a voluntary or mandatory carbon scheme, Wannon Water intends to offset its own emissions.
Wannon Water has engaged CO2 Australia Limited to establish and maintain the plantation in Northern Victoria. In addition to removing carbon emissions from the atmosphere, CO2 Australia's tree plantings will provide additional benefits such as:
- improving soil structure
- reducing the risk of soil erosion and the loss of valuable topsoil
- reducing nitrification, sedimentation and degradation of waterways
- reducing the risk of salinisation of land and waterways
- increasing biodiversity on local and regional scales, and
- providing a diversified income for land owners.
Offsetting through carbon sequestration is lower on the EPA's and other carbon management principle hierarchies. However, Wannon Water decided to undertake a program of activities across the hierarchy spectrum – i.e. reducing and replacing energy and carbon intensive processes. As an early adopter of biosequestration technology, Wannon Water has a long term commitment to emissions reduction and climate change mitigation.
This 50-year project is a first for the Victorian water industry and will provide environmental benefits for current and future generations. The plantation is also the first large-scale, long-term, single-purpose carbon sequestration planting established in Victoria.
For further details call Wannon Water on 1300 926 666 or visit www.wannonwater.com.au