An online resource for landholders interested in carbon farming has been launched by the Department of Agriculture and Food in collaboration with Rangelands NRM WA with $3.2 million in funding provided through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Program.
Department Agricultural Resource Risk Management executive director John Ruprecht said the website would provide stakeholders with better access to information and data about carbon farming, including the benefits and pitfalls.
“A range of new information sheets on carbon farming will be available to download from the website or as hard copies,” Mr Ruprecht said.
Carbon farming is the process of managing soils, vegetation, water and animals to increase carbon storage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that can be released through farming activities such as machinery use, transport, production and use of fertiliser, and rumen fermentation from animals.
Department of Regional Development and Lands Director General Paul Rosair said the new website and information sheets address the emerging interest in carbon offset schemes.
“It is important that our farmers have a good understanding of the benefits, opportunities and any associated risks of carbon farming so that they can make sound informed decisions,” Mr Rosair said.
“The online resource and fact sheets deal with carbon farming for both the agricultural areas and the rangelands and aim to provide access to the latest information on the subject.”
Rangelands NRM general manager Brian Warren said the website and new information sheets would be welcomed by land managers who wanted to access baseline data and gain a good understanding of the potential for carbon farming.
“One of the fundamentals of the Carbon Farming Awareness program is to ensure that the information that is being presented is current, reliable, unbiased and balanced so that the land owners can make good decisions about undertaking projects,” Dr Warren said.
He said the project included two main areas of the State that differed considerably in how the carbon farming initiative would be presented.
“In the higher rainfall agricultural areas there are already projects related to carbon sequestration through tree planting and revegetation actions. This is a fairly clear model that applies to many areas of Australia,” Dr Warren said.
“But there is currently a lack of information for the lower rainfall rangelands of Western Australia where the carbon farming initiative may open other avenues for generating income for pastoralists and at the same time improve their soil base.”
He said there was also currently a lack of methodologies for generating credits in the lower rainfall areas.
“But this is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation where methodologies will not be produced until some basic information is available,” Dr Warren said.
“In the higher rainfall areas of northern Australia there are already carbon avoidance programs built around fire management generating income for land managers. These programs currently only apply above the 1000mm rainfall and focus on the reduction in hot, late dry season fires. There may be future opportunities in this regard for rangelands regions with less rainfall, but still with significant fire problems.”
Dr Warren said that whatever the future held for the carbon farming, the basic concept requiring good management principles to allow credits to be generated was very positive for farming enterprises.
More information can be found at the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) website agric.wa.gov.au/carbonfarming.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, DAFWA media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937