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Trees and Climate Change – Talk by Dr Greg Moore

Mature Blue gum at Longwood East

An entertaining and engaging address to an attentive group of farmers and landholders was delivered on Sat Sept 24 by arborist  Dr Greg Moore on the subject of trees and climate change. Dr Moore cited examples of how a changing climate will have both positive and negative impacts on rural communities. Climate change will be characterized by a drier climate, more intense summer storms, and an increase in the frequency and duration of extreme high temperatures.  The event was held at Fernhills Conservation Park in Sheans Ck and was co-hosted by the newly formed Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network.

Dr Moore was Principal of Burnley College for almost 20 years. He is a board member of a number of organizations including The Trust For Nature and has been Chair of the National Trust Register of Significant Trees since 1996.

Giant Yellow Box tree at Ruffy

Dr Moore believes that farmers and conservationists are not as diametrically opposed as is often portrayed in the media and that fundamentally they share the same goals of preserving soil health and biodiversity both of which are fundamental to any productive landscape.   Through his research Dr Moore has been able to put a dollar costing on many of the environmental services provided by trees in the landscape especially the cooling  effects of trees during periods of extremely high temperatures. For example, the financial savings to governments in  reduced repair and maintenance costs by simply retaining shading from trees along bitumen roadways and railway lines is significant.

The importance of maintaining tree cover and vegetation in populated areas is especially important in a hotter drier climate. Trees provide shade and help cool the surroundings as well as reducing air borne dust particles.  Citing recent data from the Victorian Department of Health, Dr Moore said there is a significantly higher incidence of ambulance call outs to people with respiratory distress such as asthma, in areas that contain few or no trees.

The elderly are particularly susceptible during periods of prolonged extreme temperatures if they live alone in houses without air conditioning or tree shading. The term “excess deaths” is used by health professionals to describe the increase in mortality of the over 75 yr old age group as a result of extreme temperatures.

Dr Moore believes that the amount of carbon stored in soils has been substantially underestimated.   This is good news for land holders as they will be well placed to benefit financially when a carbon trading scheme comes into effect. There are also many unexplored niche market opportunities for landholders to value add from select tree growing on their properties. For example some essential oils currently attract prices higher price than gold.

Thanks to Penny Algar and Michael Spencer for hosting this event at their property, Fernhills Conservation Park .  The shearing shed proved to be an excellent venue and Janet Fogerty provided her usual excellent afternoon tea.

The Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network aims to hold a series of talks by experts over the coming months and welcomes all members of the community to attend.

For more info on Greg’s ideas about Trees and Climate Change:

Ecos magazine.

People, trees, landscape & climate change – book chapter, pdf.

ABC Fact Sheet: The value of trees.