According to a study commissioned by The Nature Conservancy and the Pew Environment Group, Australia could cut its greenhouse emissions by 5% by better management of the outback.

The study found that 9.7 billion tonnes of carbon is stored in the forests, grasslands and woodlands of Australia’s outback but if those environments were improved, 1.3 billion tonnes more carbon could be stored – the equivalent of taking 300 million cars off the road – over the next 40 years.

Feral animals, particularly camels and water buffalo, are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emission. According to Dr Barry Traill, a spokesman for the Pew Group, “When feral animals belch they release methane, a particularly noxious greenhouse gas, and every single camel or water buffalo releases the equivalent of around one ton of carbon dioxide each year. When you’ve got hundreds of thousands, in some cases millions, of these feral animals, it’s a very large amount of pollution each year.”

Unlike many feral animals, native animals do not produce much methane becasue they are not ruminants which regurgitate their food as cud in order to slowly break it down for digestion –  a process which produces a lot of methane.

The study also advocates better fire and grazing management, reducing land clearing and regrowing native vegetation.

Camels near Uluru (Image by Schomynv via Wikimedia Commons)
Camels near Uluru
(Image by Schomynv via Wikimedia Commons)