Pilbara News: Carbon farming a boon to pastoralists

By Tom Zaunmayr, Pilbara News, 21 December 2016, page 13.

Rangelands pastoralists would be in line for large financial benefits if they took up the practice of carbon farming, according to a new study released into the practice.

The Carbon and Rangelands Policy working group found carbon farming — storing carbon in soil and vegetation and selling credits on the carbon market — could be worth up to $200,000 a year to the average southern rangelands pastoralist.

Some pastoralists in the upper Gascoyne and southern Pilbara have also had a foray into the idea, including trials on Cheela Plains Station west of Karijini National Park.

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Image: Cheela Plains Station

Pilbara Liberal candidate Mark Alchin was involved in some of the early research. He said Queensland was already moving ahead in carbon farming projects.

“Western Australia is getting left behind yet we have the most to gain because of the sheer size of the State,” he said.

“You look at all those pastoral leases where the natural capital was depleted when Europeans first came to the land.

“This is a way to bankroll rehabilitation of land that has been degraded which then allows pastoralists, when land has been rehabilitated, to then sustainably graze it.”

Mr Alchin said while change would not happen overnight, carbon farming had the potential to create jobs and diversify the economy.

Rangelands consultants Don Burnside and Bruce Howard found carbon farming would generate more royalties than the Government receives in rent from all the State’s 527 pastoral leases.

The report was commissioned by Partnership for the Outback.

Carbon Neutral chief executive Kent Broad said the only thing standing between pastoralists and carbon farming was the green light from Government.

“The report supports what many in the carbon industry have suspected — that there is huge untapped potential for carbon farming on leasehold land in the outback,” he said.

“The only thing left is for Government to develop a clear investment pathway and the policy necessary for carbon farming to get off the ground.”

The study found carbon farming could remove 140 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over 25 years — equivalent to taking 30 million cars off the road for a year.

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