NSW Department of Primary Industries Senior Research Scientist Dr Fabiano Ximenes has been awarded the University of New England Chancellor’s Doctoral Research Medal for his research on carbon release from decomposition of wood and paper products.
NSW DPI Group Director Forestry Policy Research and Development Nick Milham congratulated Dr Ximenes on receiving this prestigious award and the acknowledgment of the excellence of his research.
“This is a great achievement and is well deserved. Dr Ximenes’ research has progressed internationally the understanding of carbon storage in timber products in use and in landfills,” Mr Milham said.
“Each year in Australia approximately 3 million tonnes of wood and paper products are sent to landfills. As organic materials decay in landfills they release the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide.
“Until recently it had been assumed that as much as 50 per cent of the carbon in wood products was released from landfills as greenhouse gases. However, the research conducted by Dr Ximenes and his team has challenged those assumptions.
“The research involved excavations of a number of landfills in NSW and Queensland and the analyses of hundreds of wood and paper samples. The work also included investigating the fate of carbon in forest products under controlled laboratory conditions.
“As a result of the research, the team were able to propose a much lower decay factor for wood products, with the loss of only 1.4 per cent of the carbon in the wood and wood products over a very extended period.
Mr Milham said this study indicates that even when timber and wood products are eventually disposed of most of the carbon remains stored.
“It confirms the positive greenhouse credentials of wood products, even when placed in landfills,” Mr Milham said.
Dr Ximenes’ research has been internationally influential, with the decay factors generated by the research being examined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and then included in the IPCC Emission Factors Database, for use by countries around the world.
The research has direct implications for national greenhouse gas inventories; carbon abatement programs and the environmental foot print of forest products.