Double benefits for South West farmers planting native trees

The Australian Government’s much-anticipated Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot launched on 12 April, allowing farmers in South West WA to be paid for planting biodiverse native trees on their land for the first time.

The $23.5 million Pilot, developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Australian National University, aims to encourage farmers to plant mixed species of native trees and shrubs on their land, to increase biodiversity and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Increasing the type and number of species on farms boosts pollination rates, improves soil health, provides shelter for livestock and builds vital habitat for wildlife, such as WA’s endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoo. Using trees to take up carbon contributes to Australia’s climate change targets and provides farmers with additional income through the production and sale of carbon credits.

Successful applicants will register planting projects of between 5 and 200 hectares through the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund to be rewarded with Australian Carbon Credit Units. These can be sold to the Government and private businesses or retained by farmers to offset their own farm emissions – an important step towards becoming carbon neutral.

Through the new Pilot, farmers who plant according to a local planting protocol specific to the South West region will also receive an additional ‘biodiversity payment’. This payment will take into account the costs of establishing the project and maintaining the plantings for at least 25 years.

South West Catchments Council, the South West region’s peak natural resource management organisation, has worked with the Australian National University to develop the South West WA planting protocol and costing models to ensure that program requirements are suited to the region’s unique environment.

SWCC CEO Sally Wilkinson said: “We appreciate the opportunity to be involved in the development of this important initiative, to ensure that farmers in our region can be recognised and rewarded for their efforts as good land stewards. It’s vital that we innovate in such a way that both our unique ecosystem and our agricultural industry can flourish.”

 

More information about the program is available on the Australian Government’s website. Farmers interested in taking part in the Pilot are encouraged to contact SWCC in the first instance, who will be available to assist with the application process – email [email protected] or call 0428 959 122. Project applications close on 11 June.

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