HIR projects on pastoral lease lands
HIR refers to the regeneration of native vegetation brought about by changes to pastoral practices, in particular the timing and extent of livestock and feral animal grazing. By reducing grazing pressure and ceasing clearing, native forest is able to regenerate from lignotubers and natural seed stocks. HIR does not involve new plantings or a requirement to de-stock.
A carbon farming project has carbon estimation areas (CEAs) where trees able to reach at least 2m in height and 20% canopy cover are located. CEAs are a minimum of 0.2ha in area and can be scattered across the landscape or contiguous. Pastures, scrubby vegetation and grasses, roads, lakes and buildings are not eligible.
The growth of eligible vegetation within a CEA indicates the increase in carbon stocks. For each tonne of CO2e- sequestered, 1 Australian carbon credit unit (ACCU) may issued by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).
CEAs are identified by the project proponent and registered with the CER. They can be removed from the project for a range of reasons eg fire or other natural events, clearing for resource activities, etc. CEAs can cover between 10 and 45% of a pastoral lease, depending on the geography of the landscape.
For more information about HIR projects see the Climate Solutions Fund and the Setting up for success guide, produced by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
Project area exclusions
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage (DPLH) assesses applications for the State's EIH consent on behalf of the Minister for Lands. The forms are found here for HIR and savanna burning (in the Kimberley). Part of the process administered by DPLH is the exclusion of specific areas. This is to reduce the impact on resource activities and the carbon farming project. DPLH requires the carbon project proponent to do the following:
- Granted mining leases and associated general purpose leases and miscellaneous licences, and petroleum production licence areas <1 block must be formally excluded from the project area unless the mining lease owner agrees the activities can take place. The State requires evidence of any such agreement prior to its EIH consent being given.
- Pending mining leases and associated general purpose leases and miscellaneous licences must be formally excluded from project areas unless the mining lease owner agrees the carbon farming activities can take place on the area. The State requires evidence of any such agreement prior to its EIH consent being given.
- CEAs may not be placed over other granted interests. These include, but are not limited to, dedicated roads, easements or reserves, national parks, nature reserves and State forests. State Agreement Act areas must also be formally excluded.
- CEAs may not be placed over areas of land which have a Notice of Intention to Take (NOITT).
Other mining tenements including prospecting licences, exploration licences, and retention licences do not need to be formally excluded from the project area.
DPIRD has an interactive map of the intersection between pastoral leases, registered HIR projects, mining activities, conservation parks, local government areas and other land uses. This can give a preliminary overview, however, should not be relied on solely to determine project exclusions. Data is drawn from a variety of sources and updated as the originating database changes.
Compensation for clearing of Carbon Estimation Areas
The State Government has made a commitment to pay compensation a carbon farming proponent would ordinarily seek under the Mining Act (WA) should permanent loss of carbon stocks result from low-impact mining and exploration activities. Such clearing activities need to be exempt from making a Mining Rehabilitation Fund Act 2012 (WA) contribution ($50,000 in a financial year).
Given the low levels of carbon sequestered per hectare and the area of HIR projects, it is expected any carbon lost through native vegetation clearing for exploration or other low impact mining or petroleum activities will be low. Resource companies and project proponents/pastoralists are encouraged to work together to reduce the impact of resource activities on CEAs and minimise loss of vegetation to protect the enviroment and reduce emissions.
When seeking compensation, the carbon farming proponent needs to provide independent and verifiable evidence that clearing has lead to a of loss of eligible vegetation for a designated CEA that would otherwise have generated ACCUs.
Further information, contact Kerrie House on (08) 6552 1871.
Eligible Interest Holder Consent
The registration of carbon projects is the responsibility of the Australian Government through the CER. This body is responsible for the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Registration has a number of requirements such as eligibility criteria, fit and proper person test and demonstration of legal right - if the project proponent is not the pastoral lessee, evidence of the legal right to undertake the project is required.
Any person or organisation listed on the land title as having an interest in the land is an eligible interest holder (EIH) needs to give their consent for the project to go ahead. These include financial institutions with a mortgage over the land, holders of easements, reserves or sub-leases, and certain Native Title holders. As a pastoral lease is on Crown land, the State needs to provide its EIH consent for a project to be unconditionally registered and issued with ACCUs.
Where project areas are located within a determined native title claim with one or more Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate (RNTBCs), each is an eligible interest holder. Consent from traditional owners must be prior, informed and freely provided.
All relevant parties to the HIR carbon project (i.e. pastoral lessee and/or project proponent and/or carbon service provider) must sign a Deed of Agreement with the State which covers indemnities and various undertakings.
For queries or more information, please email CarbonFarming@dpird.wa.gov.au.