Tree Growth Near Power Stations

I am a director of an innovative company, Aust Pacific Forest Management (APFM) which has developed and patented the world’s first mechanical pruner for plantation trees. To grow knot free timber which has significantly greater value than knotty planks, the lower storey must be pruned to maintain the knotty core at around 100 mm diameter. To date this has to be done with hand tools, a hazardous and tedious operation in which it takes a day for 1 man to prune 100 trees. Our pruning head can trim 2,000 trees in one 8 hour shift, with surgical precision such that the bark of the tree is undamaged. The testing on the pruning head was done some 5 years ago using 100 trees given to us by Queensland Forestry as thinnings from their pine plantations near the Tarong Power Station in south-east Queensland. Fortunately 50 of these trees were taken from an area within a few kilometres from the power station, and the other from near the township of Blackbutt 15 to 20 km distant from the power station.

An interesting observation in revisiting these forestry sites was finding proof that trees in the vicinity of the coal-fired power station are growing more vigorously than similar trees 15 km away. The plantations in both locations had been established for 10 years, would have experienced a similar climate history, and the soil at the 15 km distant location looked quite rich compared to the soil near the power station. We measured the breast height circumference of a number of typical trees at both locations, and found that on average, over 200% more timber growth had occurred in the trees close to the power station as compared to those furthest from this significant source of carbon dioxide. APFM has a record of the measurements taken and photographs of the trees in both areas, and although this is far from a controlled scientific experiment, the huge difference in timber volume between the two locations is quite remarkable and consistent with other scientific reports where plants are grown in controlled greenhouse conditions.

All of our library research and investigations into greenhouse conditions using carbon dioxide enriched air, together with various reports, lead us to conclude carbon dioxide, a gas which is heavier than air, is best left to flow into the forests to encourage plant growth. All of your excellent research and conclusions from many other reputable groups also leads to the conclusion that man-made carbon dioxide is only beneficial to life on earth, and that efforts to trap and store this gas are a colossal waste of time and money.

We are therefore examining ways to introduce carbon dioxide from coal-fired power stations not only into the forests, but into croplands to enhance food productivity.

John McRobert BE (Civ)
Director APFM
Brisbane Q 4001

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