Sunday, September 20, 2009

The ex-Governor General's Task Force looks to Soil Carbon Credits

Major General Michael Jeffrey, the former Governor General who has made it a personal mission to address what he calls a "national emergency" over Australia's natural water supplies, has soil carbon sequestration and trading in offsets as a key part of his strategy.

The NSF Task Force is not unlike the Carbon Coalition, with one difference: in our movement no one solution predominates. In the world of NSF, one solution has precedence. The "Dialogue at Kioloa" near Bateman's Bay last weekend, which resulted in the article you circulated to your members, was attended by around 100 people of diverse backgrounds and interests. They were united by one thing: an invitation from Major General Michael Jeffrey, the former Governor General, who has a personal mission of seeing Peter Andrews principles put into practice because he believes the nation is facing a water crisis. A presentation to senior federal pubic servants at Peter's former home Tarwyn Park in the Hunter Valley was made by rangelands soils specialists, biofertiliser experts, and soil ameliorant producers. These were presented as part of an holistic solution to water issues, with Peter's techniques the centrepiece of the portfolio. It was agreed that water is the gatekeeper for everything else, but that it is not a solution on its own. The outcome of the day was a decision to assemble a Task Force to implement this vision. The Major General declared that the secret to success was in understanding how all the parts fitted together and the Carbon Coalition provided a solution in the form of the attached. (Farmland Ecosystem Restoration Planner, aka SCOT: The Soil Carbon Optimisation Tool.) Another issue the Coalition sees arising from the weekend, is 'adoption' of the practices by farmers. Here soil carbon credits are seen by the Task Force as the catalyst. The Carbon Coalition - which has always been a supporter of Peter Andrews and Natural Sequence Farming as a carbon-stimulating technique - is behind the Task Force 100%. To further complicate the matter, a new association has been formed in this space - Ecological Agriculture Australia - which acts as a resource for those interested one, any or all of the 5 Pillars of the Association: Food, Farming, Ecology, Ethics, and Education. The contact there is Kerry Cockrane at CSU Orange. The Carbon Coalition is active in the working party establishing this organisation. This is because the Coalition's laser-like focus on soil carbon credits is a narrow field of endeavour which aims to have a universal impact across the broad area of focus of the Task Force (Restoring Farm Landscapes) and the multi-faceted ambitions of EcoAg Australia (bringing farmers into closer relationships with environment and community). The Carbon Coalition is integral to both of the organisations because we are symbiotic.

Scenes from the Dialogue at KioloaWhere two worlds meet: Rhonda Daly from YLAD Living Soils - a major sponsor and promoter of thought leaders and progressive ideas in Natural Farming - worked alongside the CSIRO's Dr Brian Keating, Chief of Sustainable Ecosystems. Brian's organisation was a major sponsor of the Dialogue.
Tony Coote is an accomplished carbon farmer who would be a black belt 5th Dan were it Karate. He has established an Institute to foster the next generation of "Regenerative Farming Advocates" (my words, not his). He has a prodigious command of the written word. Peter Andrews must have felt like a boy on his birthday - everyone was there for him. Peter is very aware of the delicate balance the Task Force is trying to achieve. He keeps repeating, like a Mantra, that the challenge is for all to work together with 'integrity and cooperation'.
Adrian Laurie of LaurieCo worked in a discussion group with Caroline Curry of Public Private Sector Partnerships... Adrian is contributing his knowledge of biological farming and Caroline her abilities as a corporate lawyer.

Like a real life Mt Rushmore, this unusual angle of the group foto being taken... prominent among the heads are Tom Nicholas (Carbon Communicator), Sam Archer (National Stewardship Initiative), David Mason-Jones (author), Brian Keating (CSIRO Chief), Graham Hand (STIPA Native Grasses), a couple of Professors, and Ed Turner (from Frog Rock Wines and Mudgee Composting.)

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