What is the Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program?
The Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program is trialling arrangements to reward farmers for improving on-farm biodiversity together with carbon projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
The pilot is a component of the Australian Government’s Agriculture Stewardship Package. The package will create new market-based mechanisms that reward farmers for improving environmental outcomes on agricultural land.
The Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program will trial a market-based mechanism that supports biodiverse environmental planting projects in agricultural areas. Participants who establish and maintain biodiverse environmental plantings in accordance with the C+B planting protocol will be eligible to receive payments for biodiversity. They will also potentially be able to receive Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) for the carbon sequestered in the plantings under the Australian Government’s ERF. Participants will be able to sell the ACCUs to the Australian Government or other buyers, which would provide an additional source of revenue for the projects.
The objectives of the pilot are:
- trial a market-based system whereby farmers can be paid to provide biodiversity improvement services
- provide the information, knowledge and experience necessary to increase and monetise onfarm biodiversity stewardship.
The intended outcomes of the pilot are:
- increase the adoption of biodiversity practices by enabling farmers to be rewarded for their stewardship by those willing to pay
- improve biodiversity and increase carbon sequestration in environmental plantings
- provide confidence to the market.
The Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program has 5 core elements.
- Participants will be required to undertake new ERF environmental plantings projects involving reforestation through either planting or direct seeding of native tree and shrub species. Participants will also need to ensure they satisfy relevant ERF participant obligations, including in relation to measurement, reporting and auditing.
- Projects participating in the C+B Pilot will also need to comply with the C+B planting protocol and reporting requirements. The planting protocol sets out rules about the location, dimensions, configuration and composition of plantings to ensure projects generate biodiversity benefits.
- Projects contracted under the C+B Pilot will receive biodiversity payments over the course of the project. Payments will be contingent on the satisfaction of relevant C+B Pilot requirements, including the planting protocol.
- Projects that meet ERF requirements, as determined by the CER, will be able to receive ACCUs for the carbon sequestered in the planting project. Participants can sell, keep or cancel any ACCUs they receive for the projects.
- Plantings established under the C+B Pilot will need to be protected and maintained for at least 25 years. Once registered under the ERF, the projects will be subject to the ERF permanence requirements.
The total budget for the Carbon+Biodiversity Pilot Program component of the Agriculture Stewardship Package is up to $23.5 million.
To be eligible, your project must satisfy the following requirements:
- All planting areas associated with a project must be located within the same pilot region. Projects can be comprised of one or more planting areas. The planting areas associated with a project can be located on different properties and different land titles, provided the properties are owned by the same applicant. However, the planting areas must be located within the same pilot region and each planting area must be located wholly within the boundaries of the region.
- Projects must cover an area of between 5 and 200 hectares. The project must satisfy the eligible offset project registration requirements under the ERF, including the requirements under the ERF environmental planting method and must not already be registered.
- The environmental plantings must be carried out in accordance with the C+B planting protocol. The environmental plantings must be carried out in accordance with the C+B planting protocols for the relevant region. C +B protocols are available on GrantConnect and at agriculture.gov.au/carbon-biodiversity-pilot. The protocols specify the location, dimensions, configuration and composition of plantings and are designed to ensure projects generate the maximum possible biodiversity benefits. The protocols contain rules about the proximity of plantings to houses and other infrastructure. These rules are designed to reduce the bushfire risk associated with plantings.
- Projects must not receive financial or other support for the establishment of the plantings under another federal, state/territory or local government environment program, other than the ERF.
To be eligible to participate in the Pilot, your project must be in one of 6 eligible Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions. The eligible NRM regions are:
- Burnett-Mary in Queensland
- Central West in New South Wales
- North Central in Victoria
- NRM North in Tasmania
- Eyre Peninsula in South Australia
- South West in Western Australia
The above regions were selected to test the pilot across a range of jurisdictions, farming systems and vegetation types. Other NRM regions may be included in the future but have not been determined at this point in time.
To be eligible, you must satisfy these requirements:
- Your property must be in one of the eligible pilot regions
- Your property must be predominantly used for agricultural purposes.
- You must be willing and able to undertake a new ERF environmental plantings project.
- You must be an individual or body corporate who owns the land on which the project will be undertaken, in the sense of holding the freehold title.
- You must meet the participant obligations under the ERF as outlined on the CER’s website
- You must not have begun the project.
- You must provide a commitment to act with the utmost good faith in your engagements with the pilot.
Applications close 11 June 2021.