Trajectory of change in land cover and carbon stocks following European settlement in Tasmania, Australia
Romanin, LM and Prior, LD and Williamson, GJ and Bowman, DMJS, Trajectory of change in land cover and carbon stocks following European settlement in Tasmania, Australia, Anthropocene, 9 pp. 33-40. ISSN 2213-3054 (2015) [Refereed Article]
The conversion of temperate biomes in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand by European colonists, creating ‘neo-European landscapes’, is emblematic of the global environmental change inherent in the Anthropocene concept. The Midlands of Tasmania is a valuable model system for studying changes to land cover and above ground biomass in neo-European landscapes. Europeans colonized this area in early 19th century and disrupted a hunter-gatherer economy that has persisted for over 30,000 years. Aerial imagery, historical reconstructions, field surveys and future climate projections provided tools to chart changes in tree canopy cover and carbon stores in the Northern Midlands for the period 1788–2070. In the ∼160 years between 1788 and 1940s, large areas of open woodland were cleared but carbon loss was modest (−14 %). In the ∼60 years between 1940s and 2010, carbon loss accelerated (a further −21%) as clearing shifted from woodlands to forests. An estimated ∼28% of the study area would need to be replanted with eucalypt plantations to capture the carbon lost between 1788 and 2010. Three general circulation models (GCMs) representing climate predictions for 2070 suggest that carbon storage in the landscape would change by +13% to −13.2% of 2010 levels, without any restoration intervention.
Anthropocene, climate change, Eucalyptus, land clearance, land use change, restoration