Opinion: Carbon farming supporting regional jobs, environment and resilience

bradkerin Market Intelligence

by John Connor, Chief Executive Officer, Carbon Market Institute.

Fifth generation family QLD beef graziers Rob and Nadia Campbell operate a carbon farming project on their property near Monto, “Goondicum Station”. Working closely with their peak natural resource body, the Burnett Mary Regional Group, their project involves protecting and regenerating native vegetation on land that has been historically been cleared. So far over 1500ha have been reforested and existing forests protected. They have found that, that in their bio-region, trees help in producing high-quality EU accredited Brangus beef, as paddocks with trees grow better quality native feed grasses than cleared land. The increased vegetation on their farm also provides food and shelter for a vast array of wildlife, including the vulnerable Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby and the endangered glossy back cockatoo as well as helping to avoid sediment runoff entering the Great Barrier Reef.

North of Bundaberg, near the Baffle catchment, a carbon farming project managed by the Gidarjil Development Corporation is in operation. This project – which is a successful pilot under the Land Restoration Fund (more on this below) – uses indigenous fire management techniques and other culturally appropriate management activities to control non-native species and increase the regeneration of the native ecosystems. The project is keeping traditional owners – elders, men, women and young people – on country, protecting their heritage, facilitating hunting as well as reducing carbon.

These specific examples are being led by developer GreenCollar, and there are countless other examples of successful carbon farming projects across QLD. The benefits of carbon farming are becoming more well-known. Since 2011, there have been over 800 carbon farming projects across Australia delivered through the Australian Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. Projects have delivered environmental benefits, promoted connection to country for Traditional Owners, protected threatened species and provided farmers with alternative income streams that allow them to stay on their land and reduce risk for their businesses.

The Queensland State Government has committed $500 million to the Land Restoration Fund to support landholders as they develop their carbon farming projects. This money – with initial assistance support of up to $10,000 – is being made available as they understand that undertaking a new business venture can be challenging.

With appropriate policy and government support the Carbon Market Institute’s Carbon Farming Industry Roadmap estimates that carbon farming can drive up to $24 billion of investment and help create over 20,000 jobs. Much of this would be an investment in regional Australia. It’s a serious new industry for Australia.

As our climate changes, carbon farming can also play an important role in climate repair as well as building resilience to growing impacts like bushfires. Carbon farming projects come in many different forms including land management activities that reduce carbon emissions through fire and herd management or the draw down and storage (sequestering) of carbon back into the landscape including through tree planting and revegetation.

As Australia begins its recovery following the devastating and horrendous 2019/2020 bushfire season, carbon farming has also been proven to reduce bushfire risk. In Cape York, “cool” savanna burn carbon farming projects, based on 60,000+ years of Indigenous fire management experience, have reduced fires in the late dry season by a third, as well as reducing overall emissions. The Queensland Government is showing welcome leadership with their $500 million Land Restoration Fund, and it is hoped that other states and territories follow Queensland’s lead. Applications are now open for the Land Restoration Fund’s 2020 Investment Round, and close 15 April 2020. Landholders, land managers and farmers who are interested in developing a new carbon farming project (or interested in entering the carbon farming industry) are invited to apply. Don’t delay, put in your application now. Join so many others in enjoying the many varied benefits of implementing your own carbon farming project.