Forest expert says up to 21 million hectares of land in South Western and South Eastern Australia could be given over to forests and woodland in support of FOPAP’s ‘Earth Rescue’ plan
20th June 2011
Tim Mitchell, a forester working in the areas of new forest establishment and carbon sequestration for Australia’s Forest Products Commission claims that vast tracts of land could be used to support FOPAP’s new CO2 sequestration model, ‘Earth Rescue’, saying “The federal government of Australia is about to sign into law two major pieces of legislation that will have significant impacts on the establishment of new forests and woodlands across southern Australia. So the potential and likelihood exists for a large amount of new woody biomass to be planted over the next 20 years and, given some global impetus, the manifestation of these plantings could suit the FOPAP Earth Rescue agenda”.
FOPAP’s Earth Rescue model was conceived by the organisation earlier this year, in direct response to Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge. John Roche, spokesman for FOPAP, explains:
“In 2007 Sir Richard Branson challenged the world to invent a solution to end global warming by removing surplus CO2 from the atmosphere. The Virgin Earth Challenge, as it is known, carries a prize fund of $25 million to the best solution offered. FOPAP had already devised a CO2 sequestration model months before we came across this, one that would actively remove all surplus atmospheric CO2 within 100 years returning CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels. So we published the details on our website in direct response to the Virgin Earth Challenge, calling it the FOPAP Earth Rescue plan. We did not enter the competition directly as we felt our solution was already ‘out there’ and simply needed adopting by policy makers at a much higher level. Then we were contacted by Tim Mitchell from Australia’s FPC. At that moment, we knew we had really begun to win the hearts and minds of the people who are on the ground, close to the issues and are living with the consequences of global warming from day to day, for these are the parts of the world where the problems it creates need to be addressed most urgently.”
Roche published details of the theory behind FOPAP’s Earth Rescue plan on the organisation’s website in March this year and it was here that Tim Mitchell first came upon it.
“I think FOPAP's is the most feasible suggestion so far in the Virgin Earth challenge and should be taken seriously” says Mitchell, “especially as an interim measure allowing the globe time to clean up the energy sector, which is likely to take at least 100 years. There is an opportunity for 4-6 million hectares of new forest/woodland in south western Australia and probably another 8-15 million hectares of new forest/woodland in the east southeast of Australia as well, which could constitute an Australian contribution to the plan. Furthermore, if many of these forest and woodland products are used in the building industry, displacing high emitting products manufactured from steel, aluminium and concrete and disposed of in a similar 'end of life' fashion as described in the Earth Rescue plan, then the FOPAP model for CO2 sequestration will be even further ahead in its calculations.”
The calculations that Mitchell refers to are the carbon life-cycle figures published on the FOPAP website claiming that if the demand for print were to treble over the next 100 years, global warming could be brought to a halt. Controversially, it also requires that paper recycling be vastly reduced, or even stopped altogether, so that all new paper stocks are manufactured from virgin pulp. Roche explains why this is so important to FOPAP’s model.
“As most people who follow FOPAP will already know, one of our core messages is to discourage the act of recycling of paper. Each time paper is recycled it uses about the same energy as when manufactured from virgin fibre, but this is not the real issue. Recycling paper has reduced the need for felling trees, which, paradoxically, has reduced the demand for planting them. This means we are now sequestering less CO2 from the atmosphere simply because we are recycling. Also, when paper is buried in landfill at the end of its life, there is no longer any doubt about what happens to it… nothing. It does not decay rapidly as is generally thought, or give off harmful gases such as methane – at least none that cannot be collected and used for energy in a properly equipped landfill site, that is. Typically the paper stays intact for very long periods of time – possibly indefinitely – which means that paper in landfill is actually a growing store for carbon, but is not being internationally recognised as such. This is a huge mistake.”
Mitchell agrees with Roche, citing the work of his fellow countryman Fabiano Ximenes, who has spent the last few years digging up landfill sites in eastern Australia and proving conclusively that wood based products, such as paper, do not decay as previously thought: “Looking at some of Ximenes’ findings it only serves to further confirm the dark secret that we in our industry have known for a while now, that is the potential for global salvation to be built on the back of re-vegetation and increased use of wood fibre in all its forms. Ximenes work is extremely important and should be widely exposed.” He added that he “fully endorsed” the FOPAP approach and concluded by saying “FOPAP's is the first serious attempt at a model to combat global warming ever to cross my desk. I was so impressed that I resent the details to Virgin confirming that they surely must be taking this seriously.”
Roche said that he hoped having a real-life forester who had spent more than 20 years fighting for the sorts of issues FOPAP support would add impetus to the organisations plans “Our website is taking hits from all over the world at the moment, right up to government level. Tim’s support is typical of a small, but growing army of dedicated individuals who have thought through the entire carbon lifecycle process and arrived at the same conclusions as us. It is therefore high time that our organisation’s views and opinions were both listened to and acted upon.”
Information about the Australian Forest Products Commission can be found at www.fpc.wa.gov.au
FOPAP global warming would end in 100 years 5th March 2011
FOPAP recycling claims to be studied by DECC 10th February 2011
FOPAP calls leaders to Unite 24th January 2011
BPIF publish new industry facts and figures, shining a positive light on print 12th January 2011