Applications open for Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot in Wide Bay

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Llew O’Brien is encouraging farmers in the Burnett Mary region to diversify their farm income and improve their drought resilience as part of a new Australian Government trial.
 
Applications for the Carbon + Diversity pilot program are now open under the government’s Agricultural Stewardship Package, which will see farmers being paid for the biodiversity benefits of mixed-species tree plantings on top of eligible carbon projects.
 
The pilot program was launched last month at Bunya Grove Produce in Amamoor south of Gympie by Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Mr O’Brien, after the Burnett Mary region was selected as one of six areas to take part in the trial.
 
“With applications now open, it’s a fantastic opportunity for Wide Bay farmers to get paid for what they do best – looking after the land,” Mr O’Brien said.
 
Mr O’Brien said the pilot will help Wide Bay farmers manage land their land not by locking it up but by undertaking biodiversity and carbon work hand in hand with their productive farming enterprises.
 
“Our Wide Bay farmers produce some of the best food in the world, and this pilot allows farmers to continue to that great work and be more financially sustainable, while also delivering carbon and biodiversity outcomes.
 
“I’m delighted that the Burnett Mary region was one of six areas selected to take part in this pilot program, and I’m looking forward to seeing our farmers and our local environment both better off as a result.”
 
As part of the pilot, the Australian National University has created the processes and protocols that measure and reward farmers for undertaking the plantings, delivering a system that will be respected by international markets.
 
ANU Professor Andrew Macintosh said farmers will be paid for planting blocks or shelterbelts of 20 metres or wider using one of the lists of native plant species created for this pilot.
 
“This system delivers rewards for farmers that are achieving measurable biodiversity gains,” Professor Macintosh said.
 
“If planting areas include mature trees, are near watercourses, or provide good habitat for threatened species, this gives the project a higher biodiversity benefit score. If a bushfire comes through and the trees do not naturally regenerate, the farmer is expected to replant but does not need to pay any money back.”
 
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said the Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot is key component of the government’s $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package.

“When I first became Agriculture Minister, I had a belief and passion that Australian farmers should be rewarded for the stewardship of their land.

“Through the world-leading work of the Australian National University, we now have a framework that will deliver a return to farmers, while also providing the right integrity to ultimately establish a robust marketplace. 

“Under this pilot, farmers across six Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions will now be able to apply to receive a biodiversity payment in addition to what they would receive under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) if they use regional specific planting protocols and comply with ERF methodologies.

“This doesn’t mean locking up the land and throwing away the key. This means planting trees on less productive land, such as gullies or hillsides, to deliver a return that is at or better than what the farmers would achieve under traditional farming methods.

“We’re also capping the program at between 5 to 200 hectares to guarantee farmers can continue to do what they do best: farm.

“This pilot has significant potential: it will improve our landscape and environment, it will deliver carbon abatement, and it will provide an important drought resilient income stream for farmers.

“I encourage farmers in the six NRM eligible regions to get involved in the pilot and help us prove this pilot works and prove to the market there is a genuine opportunity to invest in Australia’s farmers, the environment and the future of rural and regional Australia.”
For more information go to: www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculturestewardship

Fast Facts:

  • Applications for the Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program close on 11 June 2021
  • The Pilot is a key component of the Australian Government’s $34 million Agriculture Stewardship Package
  • Six NRM regions across Australia have been selected to test the pilot:
    • Burnett-Mary (QLD)
    • Central West (NSW)
    • North Central (VIC)
    • North Tasmania (TAS)
    • Eyre Peninsula (SA)
    • South-West (WA)
  • Regions have been selected, amongst other criteria, to trial the program across a range of jurisdictions, farming systems, and vegetation types

Applications close at 11:59pm on 11 June 2021. To apply, visit think link: https://agsteward.com.au/program/index.html

Further information about the program can be found here: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/…/carbon-biodiversity-pilot