What you need to know about the impact of climate change on hardwood trees
Posted On July 19, 2021
Hardwood trees, particularly those with large populations, are among the most valuable trees in Australia.
As Australia experiences a severe drought, the number of them is expected to fall dramatically.
The World Heritage Committee says the impact on hardwoods is the most serious concern.
A recent study from the University of New South Wales estimated that a 7cm increase in temperature over the next 30 years could have a negative impact on the survival of some trees.
Hardwood forests in Australia have been affected by climate change for thousands of years.
A study from 2016 found that climate change has already reduced the survival rate of hardwood forests across Australia by 20% and is expected increase the number by more than 80%.
The study estimates that a decrease of 1.5cm of temperature would mean about 1.1 million trees would be lost.
A 6cm increase would mean between 3.7 and 8.6 million trees are lost.
The report also warns that the effects of climate-change on Australia’s timber industry are far-reaching.
Australia has about 1,500 hardwood species.
The Australian Institute of Forest Research (AIFR) estimates that as many as a third of the world’s hardwood forest species may disappear by 2100.
Australia is the largest importer of hardwoods in the world, accounting for more than 50% of the global supply.
But the report warns that climate-related stressors such as increased temperatures and reduced rainfall could cause hardwood losses to accelerate.
Australia’s forestry industry has suffered a significant loss of biodiversity.
This is due to the removal of native trees and the rapid decline of the native trees that once dominated the forests, according to the report.
Some native species have already disappeared or are now threatened by climate-induced fires.
Other native species are threatened by changes in soil chemistry, and their habitats have been altered by land-use changes.
The impact of future climate change in Australia could be even greater.
In the Northern Territory, the impacts of climate on hardtrees are already being felt, as the Australian Environment Department recently reported that some native trees were declining in size.
“The [NT] NT government has been very proactive in trying to manage the situation.
They’ve been working with the Forestry Department to manage native species and we’ve also been working closely with the Australian Conservation Foundation to manage indigenous species in the area,” said John Williams, head of the NT department of forestry.
“In addition, they’ve been monitoring our native trees, which have been increasing in number, so they’re not all disappearing.”
Some native trees in the NT are threatened with extinction.
But this is not the only threat.
As temperatures rise, the risk of fires increasing is also increasing.
The Environment Protection Agency says the risk from climate change is “very real”, with the risk for the fires in the Northern Territories increasing by 1.4 times over the past 30 years.
“A warmer climate will lead to more bushfires and more drought and the worst of it will be on fire-prone areas like the NT,” said Dr Paul McVey, an expert in fire and climate change.
“We’re already seeing that the fires are now being burnt more frequently and hotter than they were a couple of years ago.”
The Northern Territory government has also reported a spike in fire activity, with fire danger levels rising across the country.
“There is a very high level of fire risk in the bush,” McVay said.
“You have areas that are in very hot, dry conditions where the risk to people is extremely high.”
The Department of the Environment is aware of the impact that climate could have on hard-wood forests and is trying to keep the population in check, but is also concerned that if the damage to forests continues, it will damage the environment.
“It’s an issue that we can’t ignore,” said the department’s director of environment and conservation, Dr Steve Anderson.
“If we continue to have a fire season, it’ll be worse than ever, and we’ll be reducing the numbers of species that live there.”
Climate change has caused changes in the landscape of the Northern Australian rainforest.
Trees that were once a source of income and food for millions of people have been stripped of their carbon and are now vulnerable to disease and destruction.
The government says climate change will make it harder for native species to recover.
The environment department is working with government agencies to ensure that all existing hardwood areas are protected, and the agency is also working to find new ways to manage natural areas.
The Northern Australian Government has established a National Fire Management Centre in the city of Hobart to coordinate all firefighting operations, and is looking to the region to help manage the fire threat in the region.
The National Fire Service is also being updated to include climate change into its operational planning.