You may have read on the front page of Courier Mail on Saturday the article about Queensland’s First Carbon Farmer, Peter Allen.
The project was the first avoided deforestation project of its kind in Australia and one of the biggest in the world.
The project secured 12,000 hectares of vegetation which was eligible to be cleared under the Stat Governments 500,000 hectare clearing ballot process.
It was estimated (both ground truthed and reconciled with the AGO) that the project prevented 1,200,000 tonnes of C02 emission being released into the atmosphere.
The cut off date for clearing permits to be acted upon was the 31 December 2006 which brought an end to broad scale land clearing of remnant vegetation in Queensland
It is amazing to read some of the responses in the article and also on the blog entries linked to the project.
Instead of being supportive of a project to protect vegetation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions many people were critical of the project.
One response was:
“I thought Peter Beattie past a law a couple of years ago that said no established forest of natural growth could be bulldozed. This farmer appears to have pulled a good one to me, He’s turned a few baron and unusable acres of scrub into a million bucks”
‘How come the farmer, was in a position to destroy all those trees in the first place? There’s no moral here, merely a financial decision! Such thinking has created the problem in the first place and that by a shear a ‘twist of circumstances’ makes the farmer look ethical.’
Green groups have come on board to say the voluntary market is open to exploitation, with no controls on who can sell carbon and no checks on the work carried out.
However, to eligible under the scheme vegetation had to be approved by the Australian Greenhouse Office under the Greenhouse Friendly initiative.
To secure the carbon, landholders had to agree to enter into ‘carbon rights’ agreements.
Briefly, the ‘carbon rights’ agreement consists of:
– A 120 year agreement not to clear the vegetation which binds to title for future owners;
– On-going grazing and management is allowed to reduce bush fires, weed outbreaks and feral animal infestations;
– The agreement areas are surveyed and added to the survey plan.
To account for fire and carbon loss a 20% buffer was added to area eligible to be sold for credits.
In the future, there are further ‘avoided deforestation’ projects planned for eligible vegetation in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
This eligible vegetation must meet the requirements set down under the Kyoto Protocol definition of forest and enforced by the Australian Greenhouse Office.
Landholders are already skeptical of the merits of reduced land clearing after the way in which Premier Beattie and the Queensland State Government have enacted and enforced the Vegetation Management Act.
Now the job will be even harder to convince eligible landholders to enter into the project because of the criticism that the project may attract.
The Allen’s (who were interviewed for the article) did not want the media attention but where interested in the diversification of income potential in selling the rights to carbon held in their vegetation on their own land and also the opportunity to contribute something back to the environment.
However, the attitude from many (mostly urban) is that it should be an ‘ethical’ decision rather than financial.
People want the benefits but no one wants to pay for it. We (the farmers) cant win.
For more information on the project go to www.carbonpool.com.au .