Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot Program
Please note – applications for the Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot Program have now closed
Cattle Council of Australia is supporting the Federal Government’s Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot Program and will continue working to help uphold its integrity. Producers who engage in the program will be rewarded for on-farm biodiversity work and will be part of a world-leading pilot program that recognises the value of on-farm biodiversity stewardship. There are three principles to the program that Cattle Council will be working to uphold.
- The program has to have scientific integrity and stand up to international scrutiny.
- Producers are paid fairly, that is they are no worse off if they take part in the program.
- The program respects beef producers’ right to make decisions about what’s best for their farm.
The pilot programs seek to demonstrate that ‘environmental markets’, which reward landholders for such things as carbon and biodiversity outcomes, can provide a real way to diversify, and potentially boost farm income. The knowledge gathered in the pilot projects will help create a bigger, broader national scheme that provides opportunities for landholders to diversify into less drought-exposed income streams, making their income more secure and improving environmental outcomes (similar to what is occurring in New South Wales through the Biodiversity Conservation Trust and in Queensland through the Land Restoration Fund). The Australian Government will need producers on the program to show clear, measurable biodiversity and carbon results, remembering the landholder will be paid taxpayer dollars. There are three pilot programs that interested landholders can participate in.
- Carbon + Biodiversity Program. Landholders participating in this program will be able to receive carbon and biodiversity payments if they plant, manage and maintain shelterbelts and/or other environmental plantings for 25 years, choosing from a range of native plant species. Regeneration of gullies, waterways and degraded hillsides are examples of the types of projects that could be undertaken. The projects are intended to complement livestock production through the carbon and biodiversity payments, and also by providing shelter for livestock and reducing soil moisture loss and erosion.
- Avoided Degradation Program. Landholders participating in this program will be able to receive payments to protect, manage and enhance high conservation value remnant vegetation on their properties. Participating landholders will be required to actively manage the vegetation, including through such things as installing fencing, and carrying out weeding, pest control and replanting. In return, they will receive an upfront payment to cover initiation and other start-up costs, as well as ongoing payments over a prescribed period to support the management activities and relevant reporting requirements.
- Australian Farm Biodiversity Certification Pilot. Landholders participating in this program will be able to be certified as being ‘biodiversity friendly’ if they meet prescribed standards of performance regarding on-farm biodiversity outcomes. It is hoped that, in the future, this certification could potentially boost returns by lowering capital costs, securing market access, facilitating participation in environmental markets and potentially enabling access to price premiums. During the pilot phase, participating landholders will receive assistance in establishing relevant environmental measurement, reporting and verification systems, which will facilitate the certification of the biodiversity outcomes on their property. Landholders involved in the pilot will also be reimbursed for participation costs.
Carbon credits now rank just outside the top 50 Australian agricultural products by farm gate value. The intent of these pilot programs is to broaden the opportunities associated with environmental markets while helping to improve the resilience of farm businesses. The programs are being delivered by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in collaboration with the Australian National University. Cattle Council is working with the Australian National University and Commonwealth to put those delivering the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Pilot Program in contact with beef producers.