Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package

The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment has partnered with the Australian National University (ANU) to deliver a suite of programs under its Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package.

SWCC was one of only six regions across Australia to be chosen to partner on pilots of the Carbon + Biodiversity and Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Programs. Working with ANU, SWCC developed program protocols specific to the South West to ensure maximum benefits for the region’s farmers and environment.

The $23.5 million Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot encourages farmers to plant mixed species native trees and shrubs on their land, to increase biodiversity and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Successful applicants will register their planting projects through the Emissions Reduction Fund to access Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). These can be sold to the Government or private businesses or be retained as a step towards carbon neutrality. The Department provides payments in addition to the ACCUs, to recognise the biodiversity benefits of the emissions reduction project.

The $22.3 million Enhanced Remnant Vegetation Pilot aims to create a credible and sustainable market mechanism that improves biodiversity and creates new income opportunities for farmers. The Pilot puts a value on farm native vegetation, allowing farmers to diversify their business while building environmental benefits such as drought resilience and wildlife habitat. Fencing, replanting, weed and pest control are among the activities funded by the Pilot. As well as helping to design the program, SWCC is undertaking site assessments on behalf of the Department to assist with assessment of applications and will help successful farmers to deliver their projects.

“Working so closely with the NRM groups such as the South West Catchments Council on the design of the Carbon + Biodiversity and Enhancing Remnant Vegetation Pilots has allowed us to ensure that these programs are relevant to local landholders and deliver the best outcomes for biodiversity”

Dean Ansell, Australian National University.

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