The Corridors for Climate Change Project aims to improve landscape resilience to climate change by working collaboratively with farmers and property owners. By increasing the capacity of farmers in the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) to take part in restoration activities, take measures to improve biodiversity on farms and build their own carbon stores, we are creating lasting environmental resistance to climate change.
Trees play a key role in this initiative. They reduce vulnerability to changes in climate by:
- enhancing biodiversity and providing protection for wildlife
- encouraging native species designed for a drier climate
- connecting existing vegetation
- protecting waterways
- reducing salinity and wind erosion of fertile topsoil
- improving farm productivity
Trees can also help to mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in their biomass (trunks, branches, leaves and roots). Trees in Australia’s native forests hold about 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon in their biomass. This carbon store, known as a ‘carbon sink’, is equivalent to keeping 24 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The amount of carbon absorbed and stored by trees each year depends on weather conditions and the age of trees, and varies with tree species and site conditions.
Under the Kyoto Protocol (2012-2020), Australia has committed to create 160 million tonnes of carbon offsets by 2020. An ‘offset’ is anything that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions. To meet this target, the Australian Government passed legislation for an Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) that focuses on reabsorbing, reducing and avoiding emissions. The ERF is a voluntary scheme in which the Australian Government will purchase carbon offsets from registered projects, using a reverse auction process to select which projects are funded.
Under the ERF, farmers can plant trees as carbon offsets in accordance with established rules and gain carbon credits. One type of offset is an ‘environmental offset planting’ which means planting permanent forests of native tree species on cleared land. Farmers in the NAR typically locate environmental plantings on marginal land that isn’t suitable for other crops. These environmental offset plantings can be designed to enhance biodiversity, ecosystem function, ecological connectivity, climate resilience and productivity of land. As such, environmental offset plantings may have direct financial benefit for land holders and positive co-benefits for the environment.
The Corridors for Climate Change Project is currently exploring ways to leverage the Australian Government’s ERF and to incorporate carbon abatement solutions into landscape restoration projects. For more information visit www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au
Source: Corridors for Climate Change