Native Tree Reforestation Project Guide
Let’s break down the basics of a native tree reforestation carbon farming project.
What is a Native Tree Carbon Project?
A native tree carbon farming project is typically run under the Emission Reduction Fund’s (ERF) Reforestation by environmental or mallee plantings methodology. This involves planting, growing and maintaining a permanent forest of native trees or vegetation on land where deforestation occurred over 5 years prior to the project starting. Projects under this method store carbon in trees as they grow, earning carbon credits over a 25-year crediting period. For every tonne of CO2 sequestered, you earn one carbon credit.
Are There Any Other Project Requirements?
There are a few more to note. We’ve laid it all out here!
Long Term Rainfall:
Your long-term annual average rainfall will determine what native trees you can plant. If you receive more than 600 millimetres in your area, you need to plant a mixture of species of local provenance – termed a “mixed-species environmental planting”. If you receive less rainfall, you also have the option to plant mallee eucalypts only.
Planting Your Trees:
Trees can be planted in a variety of ways – either as seeds or tube stock, in rows or randomly, and in areas that are either linear belts or as blocks. However, all projects must be planted at a density that will achieve forest cover. In other words, a height of at least 2 metres with a canopy area that covers at least 20% of the land – like a sparse woodland.
Surrounding Woody Biomass:
Finally, your project land must not contain “woody biomass” (woody-stemmed plants) or an invasive native shrub species that needs clearing before planting can occur, except for any weed species that you have a permit to clear. If there are patches of existing vegetation on your land though, that’s fine. These just need to be excluded from your project area.
So, I’ve got the trees in the ground... how are carbon credits then calculated?
Under this method, there is no real-time carbon measurement. Instead, the projected carbon stock that will be stored in your project's trees, shrubs and debris across a 25-year crediting period is calculated in advance using a computer modelling tool known as FullCAM. Your tree growth is then checked and verified in 5 year reporting cycles and regular audits, ensuring you’re managing your project properly, and you are paid for credits correctly.
What are the benefits of running a Native Tree Carbon Project?
There are heaps of benefits, let’s have a look…
Undertaking carbon farming projects provides a diversification opportunity for your on-farm income. Carbon credits can provide another income stream for 25 years. The key is to strategically integrate carbon crops into existing livestock or cropping operations.
There are proven benefits to the health of the soil, livestock, and crop vigour by strategically integrating belt plantings such as windbreaks for crops or shelterbelts for livestock.
Strategic block plantings can be implemented and transformed into a silvopastoral system- i.e. livestock are able to move under the establishing tree canopy providing shelter, with added understory plants to provide fodder (such as tagasaste or saltbush).
There are numerous co-benefits to carbon farming that, depending on your location, might also come with financial benefits:
Wildlife corridors create an improved environment for the native biodiversity.
Employment growth for local community members and cycling of contractor fees back into the local community (think your local plant nursery or family-owned earthwork business).
Benefits to the surrounding landscape, with deep-rooted trees stabilising the soil and even assisting with salinity or acidity issues.
Helping control water movement and reducing downstream water-way erosion. Check out this episode from Australian Story which talks about the community effort that went into the Mulloon Institutes landscape rehydration project.
Creating tree ‘buffers’ between cropping and waterways can also reduce nutrient runoff from fertilisers and other chemicals.
Check out the University of Western Australia’s research into these co-benefits here.
View our other project guides to help you gain a broader understand of carbon farming.