Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Banks’ blinkers block farmers’ carbon

Bankers and rural property agents have found that carbon farming is too hard to understand, so they have decided to opt out of the Carbon Farming Initiative. Rabobank is blocking a 5,000ha native vegetation carbon sink scheme on Cate and Mark Stuart’s Charleville cattle station, Mount Morris. The 20,000ha property has been seized over a $2+million debt.
The Stuarts say that the project is eligible for verified credits under the CFI, with income of $400,000 per third year.
Rabobank says the problem with carbon farming is that it ties up farmland for too long, 100 years under government rules. The bank sees the stored carbon in mulga reserves as a liability if the property was to be sold in the future. It does not see the carbon as an asset. “Because they cannot put a value on the changed land management, property agents and bankers use a $0 per hectare value default,” says Michael Kiely, of Carbon Farmers of Australia. “We had  the same experience when we applied to install 50 metre wide tree corridors,” he says. “Even though we had permission graze the areas, the bank admitted that the uncertainty causing the risk was their ignorance of carbon farming and how to value it.
But Queensland graziers Shane and Shan Joyce on “Dukes Plain”, south of Theodore, can put a value on it.. Dukes Plain is a 7900 hectare sub-tropical property of which 3000 hectares is used as grazing land for beef cattle. Areas of natural revegetation with 40% canopy cover are yielding nearly 40% greater return than those areas that were completely cleared. Trees are providing protection to the pastures and soils, allowing for much better growth and increased fodder for the cattle. Water loss through evaporation is better controlled.
The use of trees in agricultural systems can boost nutrient cycling and have positive effects on chemical and physical condition of soils. Trees add organic matter to the soil, in the form of roots or litterfall, or as root exudates in the rhizosphere.[1] These additions are important to a vast range of organisms involved in soil biological activity and have effects on soil nutrients and fertility, according to scientists.

“Bankers and brokers and lawyers and accountants in the regions have got to come to grips with the science and practice of carbon farming,” says Carbon Farmers of Australia‘s Michael Kiely.

To build awareness of the opportunities in the services that will be needed from 1 July 2014, CFA is running The 1st One Million Tonnes is a landscape carbon removal challenge to extract the first million tonnes of legacy load CO2 under the Direct Action CFI Emissions Reduction Fund. It is a Milestone set to kick-start Australia’s journey towards its target to reduce its emissions by 5 per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2020…

What is the Legacy Load?

The cause of the extreme weather events we endure is NOT the Greenhouse Gases everyone is arguing about as they try to curb future emissions. The gases doing all the damage are already in the atmosphere, some released more than 100 years ago.  It is past emissions – your grandfather’s and his father’s emissions – that are causing extreme weather.

[1] Nair, P.K.R., Nair, V.D., Kumar, B.M. & Showalter, J.M. (2010). Carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems. Advances in Agronomy, 108: 237 – 307.                                                                                

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