Heather Keith

Heather Keith is a Research Fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society in the field of forest ecology. Her research encompasses measurement of the carbon cycle, development of methods for carbon accounting, the role of natural forests in the global carbon cycle, and implications for greenhouse science policy.

Green Carbon Part 2 »

The role of natural forests in carbon storage

Authored by: Sandra L. Berry, Heather Keith, Brendan Mackey, Matthew Brookhouse, Justin Jonson
This report is the second in a series that examines the role of natural forests and woodlands in the storage of carbon. Understanding the role of natural ecosystems in carbon storage is an important part of solving the climate change problem. This report presents a landscape-wide green carbon account of the ‘Great Western Woodlands’ (GWW), sixteen million hectares of mostly contiguous natural woody vegetation to the east of the wheatbelt in south-western Western Australia. For the first time, we provide an overview of the vegetation structure, climate, geology and historical land use of the GWW, and examine how these interact to affect the carbon dynamics of this region’s landscape ecosystems. An analysis of time-series of satellite imagery is used to develop a fire history of the GWW since the 1970s. These layers of environmental information, along with field survey data and remotely sensed greenness, are used to construct a spatial model to estimate biomass carbon stocks of the woodlands at the present day, and to infer an upper limit to the carbon sequestration potential of the GWW. A range of management options to enable protection of high quality carbon stocks and restoration of degraded stocks are evaluated.

Green Carbon Part 1 »

The role of natural forests in carbon storage

Authored by: Brendan Mackey, Heather Keith, Sandra L. Berry, David B. Lindenmayer
The colour of carbon matters. Green carbon is the carbon stored in the plants and soil of natural ecosystems and is a vital part of the global carbon cycle. This report is the first in a series that examines the role of natural forests in the storage of carbon, the impacts of human land use activities, and the implications for climate change policy nationally and internationally. REDD (“reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation”) is now part of the agenda for the “Bali Action Plan” being debated in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009. Currently, international rules are blind to the colour of carbon so that the green carbon in natural forests is not recognised, resulting in perverse outcomes including ongoing deforestation and forest degradation, and the conversion of extensive areas of land to industrial plantations. This report examines REDD policy from a green carbon scientific perspective. Subsequent reports will focus on issues concerning the carbon sequestration potential of commercially logged natural forests, methods for monitoring REDD, and the long term implications of forest policy and management for the global carbon cycle and climate change.