Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Focus on flames of climate change

Graham Lloyd in The Australian writes about two major efforts to sequester carbon through more astute land use: ...In Australia, the federal government's carbon farming initiative is designed to reward better land management to stop environmental degradation and slow the carbon cycle. Stopping land clearing and planting new trees is well understood. The challenge is to reduce the amount of carbon cycled into the atmosphere through fire.

In Australia, several experimental projects have been launched to explore the benefits of moving away from cattle grazing and introducing more traditional fire management regimes to reduce wildfires and cut land-based carbon emissions.

The government has supported two significant property acquisitions that considered test beds for what could be a new boom area of carbon farming. The first was the $13 million purchase of the 405,000ha Henbury Station grazing property in central Australia in July. The government contributed $9.1m towards the purchase and RM Williams Agricultural Holdings the balance.

RM Williams will de-stock the property of its 17,000 cattle by the end of the year and put in place a program to remove feral plants and animals. Announcing the project, RM Williams managing director David Pearse said the company saw an exciting opportunity in carbon sequestration. "By managing fire, water, weeds and feral animals we'll encourage natural revegetation, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon in the soil and native plants," he said. "We'll be creating sustainable habitat and enhancing biodiversity."

This week, the Henbury project was joined by the $13m purchase of the 178,000ha Fish River Station, about 150km south of Darwin. The property is a three-way deal involving the federal government, Indigenous Land Corporation and non-profit conservation groups, with the government making the biggest contribution of $8.6m. The aim is to de-stock the property of feral cattle, buffalo and donkeys, and establish an environmental management regime that is at least part-funded through the sale of carbon offset credits to private industry....

Glen Helen Gorge, Northern Territory, Australia. Shot by Toby Hudson, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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