The Chattamarra Project: Rejuvenating the arid shrublands
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This paper considers a proof of concept project to ameliorate global greenhouse gas emissions. Industrialisation has placed a previously un-encountered demand on energy producers since the middle of the 18th Century. The primary source of energy has been from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels to meet the demands of modern society, commerce and industry, in particular in the highly developed economies of North America, Europe and other like nations.
That practice has resulted in discharging pollutant gases into the atmosphere at alarming rates. Those greenhouse gas emissions have been identified as significantly damaging the air quality of the planet and are a primary cause of human induced climate change.
The principal aim of the Chattamara Project is to reverse that damage by removing greenhouse gas emissions and re-sequestering them back below the Earth’s surface from which they have been extracted. In addition it aims to reduce a second human induced impact of climate change – that of overgrazing the arid shrublands caused through the introduction of grazing animals.
A third aim, which is incidental to the primary purpose, is to exploit the demand for essential oils by extracting citronella oil from the Australia native Corymbia tree which has been selected as the principal vehicle to extract carbon dioxide and other gases from the atmosphere to be buried in the soil.
The research approach is to conduct a field trial to quantify the social, economic and environmental benefits of the concept of using native vegetation species and feral animals to sequester greenhouse gas emissions, remove unwanted feral stock from arid rangelands, and to locally produce a product which is currently being imported to serve domestic demand.
The success of the trial will provide a template for future projects throughout Australia and other arid regions of the world. The sustainable development will provide social, economic benefits to regional societies and environmental benefits regionally and globally.
The operation of the project is relatively simple. An enclosure is erected to prevent the escape of stock – primarily cloven hoofed animals. The enclosure is planted with native trees and assisted to maturity through irrigation with artesian water.
Feral livestock are captured from surrounding rangelands and used to assist in sequestering carbon from rotting vegetation grown within the enclosure. Oil is extracted from the trees and livestock are permanently removed once they achieve trade weight. Detritus material from animal manure and rotting vegetation is sequestered into the soil.
Economic benefits are created from revenue which is generated from the sale of livestock and essential oils, and from carbon credits generated from the sequestration of carbon into the soil; Social benefits are created from employment created by the project; and Environmental benefits from the removal of feral livestock from the arid shrublands and greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.
Two principal plants have been selected for the project –
The tree Corymbia Citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum) is planted to provide overhead protection from the sun for the enclosed stock and the soil. It also serves as the principal means of carbon sequestration. A mature tree is estimated to hold around 1 tonne of carbon; and to provide material for citronella oil extraction; and
The shrub Scaevola Spinescens (Maroon Bush), which is endemic to Western Australian arid shrublands, has been chosen to provide fodder for the enclosed stock. The plant is alleged to have anti-cancer properties, detailed examination of which is outside the scope of this research.
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