Benefits through carbon credits

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

The major scheme for carbon crediting in Australia is the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). The ERF builds on the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI).

Earn credits

The ERF allows farmers and land managers to earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their land.

Participation in the ERF is through an auction process. Credits can also be sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their emissions through a secondary market.

To earn credits, a project must use an approved methodology and be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator. There are a number of methodologies enabling native forest regrowth to earn credits. More methodologies are likely to be developed to cover projects involving native forest regrowth.

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 was the largest source of greenhouse gas emisisons from land use change in 2013.

You 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 detailed information on 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.