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Rangeland ecology and management

Scenario analysis of alternative vegetation management options on the greenhouse gas budget of two grazing businesses in north-eastern Australia

S. G. Bray A C and R. Golden B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F), PO Box 6014, Rockhampton MC, Qld 4702, Australia.

B ‘Potters Flat’, Wandoan, Qld 4419, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

The Rangeland Journal 31(1) 137-142
Submitted: 13 October 2008  Accepted: 9 February 2009   Published: 26 March 2009


The emerging carbon economy will have a major impact on grazing businesses because of significant livestock methane and land-use change emissions. Livestock methane emissions alone account for ~11% of Australia’s reported greenhouse gas emissions. Grazing businesses need to develop an understanding of their greenhouse gas impact and be able to assess the impact of alternative management options. This paper attempts to generate a greenhouse gas budget for two scenarios using a spread sheet model.

The first scenario was based on one land-type ‘20-year-old brigalow regrowth’ in the brigalow bioregion of southern-central Queensland. The 50 year analysis demonstrated the substantially different greenhouse gas outcomes and livestock carrying capacity for three alternative regrowth management options: retain regrowth (sequester 71.5 t carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare, CO2-e/ha), clear all regrowth (emit 42.8 t CO2-e/ha) and clear regrowth strips (emit 5.8 t CO2-e/ha). The second scenario was based on a ‘remnant eucalypt savanna-woodland’ land type in the Einasleigh Uplands bioregion of north Queensland. The four alternative vegetation management options were: retain current woodland structure (emit 7.4 t CO2-e/ha), allow woodland to thicken increasing tree basal area (sequester 20.7 t CO2-e/ha), thin trees less than 10 cm diameter (emit 8.9 t CO2-e/ha), and thin trees <20 cm diameter (emit 12.4 t CO2-e/ha).

Significant assumptions were required to complete the budgets due to gaps in current knowledge on the response of woody vegetation, soil carbon and non-CO2 soil emissions to management options and land-type at the property scale. The analyses indicate that there is scope for grazing businesses to choose alternative management options to influence their greenhouse gas budget. However, a key assumption is that accumulation of carbon or avoidance of emissions somewhere on a grazing business (e.g. in woody vegetation or soil) will be recognised as an offset for emissions elsewhere in the business (e.g. livestock methane). This issue will be a challenge for livestock industries and policy makers to work through in the coming years.

Additional keywords: carbon, livestock methane, regrowth, savanna woodland, soil.


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