Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No, Minister (It's just not Carbon Farming)

An environmental conservation project that is being paraded as "a model for carbon farming" by the Government is damaging the cause of carbon farming. "It gives a free kick to those who complain that Carbon Farming is only about trees. Turning food-producing properties into national parks is not carbon farming, nor any form of farming," says Michael Kiely, Chairman of the Carbon Farming & Trading Association. The decision by R.M. Williams Agricultural Holdings to remove cattle from the 520,000ha Henbury Station in the Northern Territory and turn the property into a national park is trumpeted as "Leading the way in carbon farming". The property was bought for $13m (two-thirds of which was paid from Caring For Our Country funds) and the company plans to make the project pay through carbon credits for soil and vegetation "to sequestrate up to 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year for the next 10-15 years," says the Department of the Environment & Water. "The aim is to establish a model for generating biodiverse carbon credits to fund ongoing conservation management and to generate new sustainable income streams." These questions need to be answered: 1. How sustainable are the income streams? What happens in Year 16 when the revenue from carbon credits stops? Cattle cannot be reintroduced. 2. Does the absence of grazing animals remove the function of refreshing vegetation and disturbing the soil's surface to encourage new growth which helps avoid desertification. 3. Have any of the Minister's scientific advisers access to data on the increasing levels of biodiversity above and below the ground when soil carbon levels rise?

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