Carbon farming in Queensland
Carbon Farming in Queensland
The Queensland Government has committed to reducing carbon emissions by at least 30% on 2005 levels by 2030 and reaching zero net emissions by 2050.
To achieve this, Queensland must reimagine its landscape and economic sectors in a zero-carbon world. Carbon farming is an integral part of our response to climate change.
Carbon farming refers to land management activities aimed at storing carbon in trees and soils, or avoiding the release of carbon through better management of fire, livestock, and fertiliser use.
In Australia, carbon farming activities that comply with specific formulas or ‘methods’ can generate carbon offsets. Carbon offsets that meet the requirements of a method are tradable commodities.
These methods include:
- Agricultural methods – which avoid the release of greenhouse gases like methane from activities involving cattle, dairy and irrigated cotton, and involve locking up greenhouse gases in the ground by increasing soil carbon.
- Vegetation methods – which remove carbon dioxide from the air by re-growing forests (reforestation, revegetation, and encouraging native regrowth), and avoiding the clearing of existing forests.
- Savanna burning methods – which use fire management practices in northern Australia to avoid highly-potent greenhouse gases being released by wildfires, and protect the carbon stored in logs and other dead vegetation.
Queensland, due to its large land mass and natural ecology, has a comparative advantage in carbon farming to generate carbon offsets. At 30 April 2020 approximately 250 carbon farming projects exist in Queensland under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund.
The Land Restoration Fund
The Queensland Government’s Land Restoration Fund is a $500 million commitment to build the carbon farming industry in Queensland and support farmers, land managers and landholders to generate additional, regular and diverse income streams and protect their business in tough times through carbon farming projects.
The Land Restoration Fund is investing in projects that will deliver on the 3 key objectives outlined in the Priority Investment Plan:
- Land restoration to improve the health of wetlands and coastal ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef.
- Land restoration for threatened species and ecosystems.
- Land restoration for social and economic sustainability.
Additionally, the Land Restoration Fund aims to expand carbon farming in the state by supporting land-sector projects that deliver co-benefits.
Co-benefits are the direct positive environmental, social or economic outcomes associated with carbon farming projects. Payment for co-benefits in Queensland is one of the unique aspects of the Land Restoration Fund.
The Land Restoration Fund recognises the value of co-benefits across 3 main categories:
- Environmental – improving biodiversity, habitat for threatened species, soils, wetlands, and water systems.
- Social and Economic – improving the resilience and strength of regional communities by providing direct and indirect jobs, and more investment into Queensland regions.
- First Nations – providing on-country business opportunities as well as new service delivery businesses and supporting cultural connections.
The Land Restoration Fund works closely with the Commonwealth Government, peak industry bodies and key stakeholder groups to design, develop and implement strategies to develop Australia’s carbon market.
In 2019, the Land Restoration Fund Pilot Projects Program offered $5 million in funding across 2 grants programs for projects to expand the scope of Queensland’s carbon farming industry through market development and on-ground projects to deliver carbon abatement.
The Pilot Projects Programs aimed to:
- catalyse land manager participation
- demonstrate how carbon farming activities can generate co-benefits
- generate and collate data that measures and values co-benefits to support growth of new environmental markets over time
- form a basis to enable the first investments of the Land Restoration Fund.
The Pilot Project Program delivered 12 diverse projects that enabled market growth for carbon and other ecosystem services or showcased carbon farming activities that generated economic, social, and environmental benefits.
2020 Investment Round
Between January and April 2020, the Land Restoration Fund sought applications from farmers, land managers and landholders through 2 intake rounds.
The 2020 investment round aims to invest up to $100 million for carbon farming projects with co-benefits that meet 1 or more of the 3 priority areas identified by the Land Restoration Fund Priority Investment Plan.