Active landscape management – rangelands pilot
A rangelands pilot could combine regeneration, avoided clearing and beef herd management methods in a single carbon farming project.
Imagine if you could only sell one commodity that you produced on your farm. For example, you have grazed beef cattle but can only sell the prime cut, or raised sheep but can only sell the wool. The carbon market has operated a bit like this in the last few years – with farmers only getting paid for a subset of their sustainable land management activities.
The carbon farmers we partner with across the rangelands all actively manage their properties to achieve dual goals of healthy land and sustainable agricultural production. This means that since they started their carbon projects in the last five years, they have provided environmental services that go beyond what is currently recognised and credited by approved carbon farming methods.
The active landscape management approach aims to rectify this problem and to better align the carbon farming framework with how land is managed on the ground. This will make it easier for farmers to get involved in carbon farming because a greater portion of the emissions reduction actions taken by land managers to be recognised. This will provide
increased revenue from carbon projects, and enable smaller farms and additional agricultural regions to access carbon farming.
In South West Queensland we have partnered with Bush Heritage and CSIRO to undertake three pilots, funded by a $750,000 Land Restoration Fund grant. We are also establishing partnerships to undertake pilot projects in other rangelands geographies, including NSW, WA and SA.
Regeneration carbon farming projects involve managing land in a way that enables native vegetation to regenerate naturally into forest. This is done by changing, reducing or removing factors that would otherwise suppress regeneration (e.g. grazing pressure, feral animals and non-native plants and clearing or thinning practices).
The regenerating forest captures and stores carbon in the landscape, producing carbon credits which can be traded. Over time, the project implementation area will transition to ‘forest cover’. In Australia, forest cover means an area of land that has trees two or more metres tall and a canopy that covers at least 20% of the total area. Forest cover should be achieved within 15 years of when the trees germinated.
A regeneration project is implemented on land in Australia for either 25 or 100 years. Projects can only take place on land areas that did not have forest cover for the ten years before the project commences (known as the baseline period). The regeneration project involves natural germination of trees, rather than seeding or planting activities, which are covered under different project methods.
Case Study Examples
Managing a cattle in a way that reduces the emissions intensity of the herd.
Increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil as a direct result of changes in property management.
Expanding or optimising plantation estates for solid wood production.
Planting or seeding trees to establish a forest.