Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours)
School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences
Cope, Ryan, Blue Carbon Opportunities for the Lower Shoalhaven River, Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours), School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2023.
Blue Carbon Ecosystems (BCE) play an important role as profound carbon reservoirs and have the potential to sequester more carbon in an area than any other ecosystem. This has sparked interest in these ecosystems and their potential for use in climate mitigation strategies and more specifically, carbon abatement. BCEs can be restored in areas which have been tidally modified through anthropogenic interventions. One such location which has experienced anthropogenic tidal regime modification is the Lower Shoalhaven River region - a region that has a broad floodplain with many floodgates separating rivers, creeks, and associated tributaries from the tidal influences of the Shoalhaven River Estuary. Recent studies have investigated the Blue Carbon potential at a national and state level, but there are limited studies on the application on a regional scale. Accordingly, using the Blue Carbon Accounting Model (BlueCAM) and its derivative, the Forward Abatement Estimator (FAE) this study aimed to 1. Identify Blue Carbon abatement potential across the Lower Shoalhaven Floodplain, 2. Investigate abatement upstream of a floodgate as a case study to provide insight into tidal restoration of Blue Carbon Ecosystems. 3. Identify social, economic, and environmental impacts of tidal restoration and recommend strategies to overcome these impacts and maximise abatement. Abatement potential was determined using LiDAR data in conjunction with land use mapping, to create elevation layers separated by land use and stratified to enable FAE and BlueCAM abatement values. This was done for a 25 year and 100 year permanence periods. Abatement potential and suitability for BCE ecosystems was also interrogated upstream of a single floodgate and if this floodgate had a limited opening. This study found that areas with low carbon stocks were more suitable for Blue Carbon projects due to these areas having lower ecosystem transition costs. Areas with lower elevations were deemed less suitable for Blue Carbon projects as these areas would go through multiple ecosystem transitions imposed by the variability in salinity levels by anthropogenic climate change and more specifically, sea level rise. The Lower Shoalhaven River was estimated to have the potential for high abatement, worth millions of dollars. It was found that the FAE was better suited to determining future abatement potential when compared to BlueCAM, but the latter was more suited to reporting on ongoing Blue Carbon project. This study recommends the investigation and potential modification of the Forward Abatement Estimator by the ERF, with the possibility of inclusion of the FAE in the tidal restoration of Blue Carbon ecosystems method. Further study into sites identified in this study as having a high abatement potential should be conducted with greater resolution. Finally, studies should be conducted to identify values, concerns and issues of landholders and communities since such engagement is necessary to ensure a balance between the use of the land and the pursuit of carbon abatement opportunities. Overall, this study recommends that Blue Carbon projects in the Lower Shoalhaven region should target grazing areas and work alongside affected landholders to achieve triple bottom line outcomes – economic, environmental and social sustainability.
FoR codes (2020)
410101 Carbon sequestration science
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.