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Benefits through carbon credits

Carbon stored by regrowing native forests may be used to generate carbon credits, which can provide financial benefits.

There are two types of carbon offsets in Australia: Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) which are regulated financial products under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 administered by the Clean Energy Regulator; and non-regulated offsets allowed under the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard.

To earn ACCUs, a project must use an approved methodology and be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator. There are a number of methods that allow ACCUs to be generated by enabling native forest regrowth.

Generating carbon credit projects

There are two main sources of funding for Queensland-based carbon credit projects – the Queensland Government’s Land Restoration Fund and the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund.

The Queensland Government’s $500 million Land Restoration Fund (the Fund) aims to expand carbon farming, by supporting land-sector projects that generate ACCUs through various land management activities regulated by the Clean Energy Regulator with additional environmental, social and economic co-benefits. The first funding round of $100 million will open in late January 2020.

The Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the other primary source of funding for projects that generate ACCUs.

Participation in the ERF is voluntary and managed through an auction process.

Carbon stores

Land-use change, especially clearing native forests and woodlands to establish grasslands for grazing, continues to make a significant contribution to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Queensland is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change of all Australian states and territories.

Land managers can make a difference to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon stores by regrowing native forests.

Carbon is an element, and the building block of all living things on earth. It is continuously cycled through plants and animals and exchanged with the atmosphere.

As a forest grows the plants take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to carbon stored in their leaves, branches and trunks. Forests store carbon in several ‘pools’ including in living plant tissues, dead trees and shrubs, woody debris on the forest floor, and the soil.

Approximately half the dry weight of a living tree is carbon, stored for the life of the tree.

When forests are cut down and burnt or left to decay, the carbon in the trees and woody debris is released back into the atmosphere. A significant part of the forest’s soil carbon is also released. Grasses and pastures also take carbon from the atmosphere as they grow but they only store a fraction of the carbon a forest can.

A number of models have been developed to estimate carbon abatement from native forest regrowth.

The Queensland Government provides a Regrowth Benefits Tool—an interactive tool designed to provide a user-friendly interface for obtaining site-specific information. The Regrowth Benefits Tool provides information on carbon abatement potential, threatened species, biodiversity benefits and key Queensland Government regulations. The PDF reporting function allows users to obtain copies by email of maps and information on any site in Queensland.

The Regrowth Benefits Tool provides approximate estimates of carbon abatement potential. More specific information on a property's carbon abatement potential through vegetation management is available from the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) which provides world-leading accounting for greenhouse gas emissions from land-based activities in Australia.

Other information is available from CSIRO’s LOOC-C tool, which allows land managers to assess options for carbon abatement through revegetation activities as well as assess co-benefit opportunities and identify pathways for obtaining additional information about undertaking a carbon farming project.