Rangeland regeneration to sequester carbon in Western Australia

Page last updated: Friday, 31 January 2020 - 2:25pm

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Rangeland regeneration has the potential to sequester large amounts of carbon because of the large areas involved. Pastoral regeneration would also have extensive environmental benefits.

Pastoralism and highly variable climatic conditions in the Western Australian rangelands has resulted in large areas of reduced vegetation cover and soil erosion. Passive or active regeneration has the potential to improve rangeland condition and productivity, and meet national carbon goals.

Rangeland regeneration

Rangelands occupy 87% – about 2.2 million square kilometres (km2) – of Western Australia's land area, with 38% of this area – about 857 833km2 – covered by pastoral leases for grazing of livestock on native vegetation and 62% unallocated Crown land and lands vested for conservation and indigenous purposes.

Pastoralists in some rangeland areas experience financial difficulties due to dry and variable seasons and reduced productive capacity as a result of historic overgrazing. Pastoralists and natural resource management groups in the rangelands are keen to explore the opportunities in carbon farming revegetation.

Rangelands regeneration starts with reducing total grazing pressure on sensitive or degraded areas, to allow natural or assisted revegetation to occur. The loss of income from reduced grazing of pastoral areas in poor condition is expected to be very low. The huge area of pastoral leases that would benefit from regeneration means that there is potential to sequester a large amount of carbon.

Carbon sequestration in the rangelands faces significant cost, price and biophysical uncertainties. These are discussed in detail in Bulletin 4856, and plant productivity and soil organic carbon can be expected to decline if rainfall declines in future.

Carbon sequestration projects on Crown land

The Western Australian Government has given its approval for HIR sequestration projects undertaken on pastoral lands to be considered for the State's Eigible Interest Holder consent. These projects need to meet a set of criteria around issues such as pastoral lease term (over 25 years), only HIR sequestration methodology, presence of mining tenements, and obtaining other EIH consents. The approval process is coordinated by the Department of Plannings, Lands and Heritage on behalf of the Minster for Lands. See HIR Carbon Farming on Pastoral Lease Lands for more detail.

Projects will also need to meet relevant State and Commonwealth legislative requirements, including consistency with the terms of the pastoral lease, native title obligations, and permanance obligations (25 years).

For more information

Contact Tristy Fairfield via email Tristy.Fairfield@dpird.wa.gov.au or on 0411 220 704.