Ran­ge­lands car­bon thumbs up

Countryman - - NEWS - Rueben Hale

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan be­lieves a WA car­bon farm­ing in­dus­try could be pos­si­ble for the ran­ge­lands un­der ex­ist­ing pas­toral lease leg­is­la­tion.

Ms MacTier­nan will meet le­gal ex­perts to­mor­row to “get a sense” of how a car­bon in­dus­try could be de­vel­oped on pas­toral land with­out changes to the Land Ad­min­is­tra­tion Act.

Re­cent mod­el­ling shows the av­er­age South­ern Ran­ge­lands pas­toral lease could earn $145,000 to $195,000 a year from the in­dus­try.

The min­is­ter is un­der pres­sure to get the pas­toral lands re­forms un­der way since tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity from Lands Min­is­ter Rita Saf­fi­oti last year.

She listed car­bon farm­ing as a vi­tal op­por­tu­nity to be ex­plored but says na­tive ti­tle, govern­ment own­er­ship rights and other agency is­sues had made it hard.

"I un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion of many peo­ple liv­ing in the ran­ge­lands, and we need to move quickly on th­ese is­sues," she said.

Ms MacTier­nan said car­bon farm­ing could have a sig­nif­i­cant role to play in the State's economic de­vel­op­ment into the fu­ture.

“There is no doubt a large part of the South­ern Ran­ge­lands is in bad shape be­cause of eco­log­i­cal degra­da­tion, so car­bon farm­ing may pro­vide the ca­pa­bil­ity to do some­thing about it there and other im­pacted ar­eas,” she said.

Ms MacTier­nan reaf­firmed she was com­mit­ted to the pas­toral land re­forms and said she hoped to have some­thing fi­nalised within 12 months.

Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Seabrook said Ms MacTier­nan’s com­ments were a wel­come sign that govern­ment was se­ri­ous about kick­start­ing car­bon farm­ing across WA’s Out­back.

“To date the Govern­ment has not al­lowed it to oc­cur on pas­toral leases, but it looks like this is all about to change,” he said.

“With­out this much-needed leg­isla­tive re­form, key car­bon mar­kets will re­main out of reach for lease­hold­ers in Western Aus­tralia’s ran­ge­lands.”

Mr Seabrook wel­comed the an­nounce­ment that ran­ge­lands car­bon farm­ing could be pos­si­ble un­der the ex­ist­ing pas­toral lease leg­is­la­tion.

He said the PGA was keen to work with the WA Govern­ment to es­tab­lish a modern reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment in which a pas­toral­ist could es­tab­lish a car­bon farm­ing op­er­a­tion with the min­i­mum of red tape.

“We be­lieve there are at least three ma­jor reg­u­la­tory 'hur­dles' that need to be ad­dressed be­fore car­bon farm­ing can be­come a real­ity for pas­toral­ists, pri­mar­ily re­lat­ing to the es­tab­lish­ment of a method­ol­ogy that is ap­pli­ca­ble to WA ran­ge­lands ecosys­tems, own­er­ship of the car­bon, and not trig­ger­ing other reg­u­la­tions that re­quire fur­ther red tape,” Mr Seabrook said.

Car­bon farm­ing sup­port group Part­ner­ship for the Out­back said the govern­ment needed to im­ple­ment even broader re­form to ex­ist­ing out­back laws.

WA out­back man­ager for the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts and spokesper­son for the al­liance Part­ner­ship for the Out­back, David Mackenzie, said for car­bon farm­ing to reach its full po­ten­tial in the long term, a new form of lease­hold ten­ure would be nec­es­sary.

The car­bon process in­volves us­ing farm­ing meth­ods that re­duce green­house gas emis­sions, and/or cap­ture and hold car­bon in veg­e­ta­tion and soils.

By us­ing the right man­age­ment prac­tices, farms can be trans­formed from sources of car­bon to car­bon sinks. Any prac­tice that en­hances pro­duc­tiv­ity and re­turns plant residues, such as shoots and roots, to the soil, in­creases soil or­ganic car­bon.

Farm­ers and pas­toral­ists can earn car­bon cred­its for their prac­tices, which they can sell on the car­bon mar­ket. The cred­its can be bought by com­pa­nies that need to or want to off­set their emis­sion costs.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Alan­nah MacTier­nan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.