The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a voluntary carbon offsets scheme and is an integral component of the Emissions Reduction Fund. An assessment of the proposed land by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, or a registered environmental consultant, may be required to determine if the project is likely to have a material impact on water availability. Read more at agriculture.gov.au
Large-scale planting of Australian natives has benefits beyond the opportunity to earn and sell ACCUs (Australian Carbon Credit Units). By choosing to nurture endemic species on land designated for carbon farming, lease- and landowners have the opportunity to bring back biodiversity to the region and create resilient landscapes.
The time for talking is over; action is needed. With millions of tubestock available, you can be ready to plant now.
Why invest in a carbon farming solution?
The push towards Australia’s decarbonisation requires rapid action if there is any hope of meeting national greenhouse gas reduction targets. Where businesses cannot eliminate their carbon footprint in operations entirely and immediately, offsetting emissions through carbon farming and sequestration may be a viable option to reach ‘net-zero’.
Many organisations serving the consumer market, such as airlines and transportation, already offer ‘carbon offsets’ as an option for environmentally conscious customers. Product manufacturers are also leaping on the opportunity to ‘do better by the planet.’ Further up the supply chains, the resources sector is being driven by company values, global business expectations and government policies to address emissions.
But carbon farming initiatives are not purely about CO2. The Western Australian Government’s $15 million Carbon Farming and Land Restoration Program (CF-LRP) has placed emphasis on biodiversity, conservation, salinity mitigation and soil health co-benefits. Investing in organisation-led carbon farm solutions offers greater benefits and flexibility than being forced to buy ACCUs from the open market.
Benefits of carbon farming for businesses
Customers and the wider business community are becoming increasingly selective about the types of businesses they will consider being involved with. There’s also growing cynicism about initiatives that amount to greenwashing. Brands that act rather than talk are more likely to win market share and mindshare. Where negative environmental impacts cannot be avoided in providing a product or service, showing the tangible results of a CSR initiative is a powerful form of action.
Farmers and landowners can also realise economic benefits from transitioning away from a purely agricultural or resource extraction business model and diversifying their land use. In times of economic uncertainty and losses in income due to the effects of climate change, carbon farming may represent the kind of ‘hedge’ needed for a long-term sustainable enterprise.
Benefits of carbon farming for the environment
Creating resilient landscapes is imperative to the future of life in Australia. Working with the land and climate systems to reduce the severity of forest fires and other climate events should be top of mind for all custodians of the land in this incredible country.
- Beyond the reduction in atmospheric CO2, deep-rooted native plant revegetation at scale has the potential to mediate rising water tables and the effects of soil salinity.
- Assisting in rebalancing the wider ecosystems of Australia to protect endangered and vulnerable species.
- Incorporating native species into land management is an ethical approach to tackling historic environmental degradation and bolstering soil stability.
Carbon farming is not always about planting trees, either. Many regions of Australia are ill-suited to tree planting and don’t have access to the water required to sustain them. Wetlands and coastal scrub are just as vital ecosystems to support biodiversity.
With all carbon farm planting, one crucial consideration should be that of biodiversity; not a handful of plants but a wide species selection, endemic to the area, to restore the landscape and heal the country.
Types of carbon farming methods
The two main types of carbon sequestration are geologic and biologic. The former involves methods such as mechanically pumping CO2 directly into subterranean limestone. However, biologic carbon farming projects earn carbon credits by storing atmospheric carbon in plants and soil through ‘living carbon.’
Carbon farming through forestry
Protecting forested areas is only one type of carbon sequestration. Sustainable forestry initiatives allow for the harvesting of mature trees and nurturing genetically similar species in their place. Where large areas are extracted, revegetation is replaced in or around the area, which may (or may not) be harvested in generations to come.
Plantation forestry and farm forestry projects in higher rainfall areas can participate if they are located in a region where the planting of trees is unlikely to have an adverse impact on the availability of water.
Carbon farming through HIR (Human-Induced Regeneration)
Pastoral leaseholders have an unprecedented opportunity to supplement their income by entering into HIR programs with a trusted partner. Through changing land-care and herd management practices, grazing land is left to regenerate naturally.
Such programs typically stipulate a minimum 25-year commitment; however, HIR programs are low-intensity operations for farmers once set up, usually requiring strategic fencing, grazing plans and managing feral pests. Tree and shrub planting is not usually a requirement of HIR programs; however, the ‘greening’ process may well be expedited through planting or seeding native plants.
Carbon farming through tree and shrub planting
Planting initiatives must be of an appropriate size and deemed eligible to be considered for earning ACCUs. A wide variety of native trees and shrubs are equally important in this method of carbon farming, as they provide a variety of habitats for native fauna and filter air and water. Monocultures are also more susceptible to disease. For best results, choose varieties that have evolved for the local area, which are more likely to survive to reproduce and often need less attention than similarly sized foreign plant species.
Implementing a vegetation-based carbon farming system should be viewed as a long-term investment, but one that can be implemented relatively quickly once a plan is in place. We’re happy to liaise with companies, landowners, leaseholders and consultants to work in partnership through the process.
How does Plantrite help?
A carbon farming system should be carefully considered in the context of a long-term investment. Planning is vital, which is why we recommend working with advisors who can help you navigate legislation, documentation and monitoring of your investment. Plantrite is here to guide you in the execution (propagation, growing and delivery) of your native plants.
How do I start a carbon farm in Australia?
Eligibility is an essential component of any carbon farming project, and land use (present and future) needs to be carefully considered before committing to a particular plan of action. Importantly, documentation of undertakings and tracking of regeneration will be required to satisfy the requirements to earn ACCUs. Entering into any land use agreement must be agreed to by all stakeholders, including, where applicable, native title bodies, and in cases of Crown land, the State Government.
To discuss native plant selections, get advice on growth timeframes and leverage our expertise on carbon farming with native plants, please get in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are two main types of carbon reduction initiatives: sequestration and avoidance. Both involve changing agricultural practices or land use. Sequestration is achieved by increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil and vegetation. Carbon avoidance involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, soil or vegetation.
Carbon-neutral farming uses best practice to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a result of agricultural practices. Often a mix of sequestration and avoidance, it may include carbon farming on the property where it isn’t possible to eliminate emissions entirely.
Carbon farming is good for the world and all its living beings. As well as potential economic benefits, these practices are a big step in helping Australia reduce our share of greenhouse gas emissions and heal the land, as well as protect the biodiversity that supports our way of life.