Soil organic matter and green carbon in rehabilitation: their role in the carbon balance

Decomposition of organic matter originating from green carbon will add to organic carbon stored in soils and is a key parameter for soil formation. The accumulation of soil organic matter (SOM) on rehabilitated sites is highly desired as it improves the functional properties of soils such as water flow, infiltration and gas exchange, stabilises the soil mechanical structure and increases storage of nutrients and water. SOM also plays a vital role in carbon (C) storage as the largest natural C sink globally. In coal mining areas, the quantification of carbon storage is complicated by the existence of black carbon, for which advanced analytical tools are required to separate black carbon from SOM.

Research Focus and Aims

The aim of the project is to quantify the rate of accumulation of soil organic matter (SOM) on rehabilitated sites of the coal mining industry over time. It will also examine the contribution of different types of vegetation and how land management decisions can alter the magnitude of SOM changes in soils. Investigations within the project include:

  • quantify SOM on rehabilitated sites, which requires the distinction of black carbon from (recent) plant derived green carbon
  • identify ¬†management strategies to optimise the amount of C sequestered on rehabilitated sites
  • understand the commercial value of SOM accumulation in a carbon trading scheme
  • standardise assessment methods for SOM to the coal mining industry
Rebabilitation site on a coal
mine in Central Qld
Research Contact

Thomas Baumgartl
Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation
Phone: +61 7 3346 4061

Industry Partners