The future of the West Australian Mid West lies in the new carbon economy and the revegetation of degraded farmland into carbon sinks, business development director at Carbon Neutral Kent Broad will tell a conference in Geraldton today.
Mr Broad said carbon farming was already underway across the Mid West and had the potential to create a multi-billion dollar export industry within the next few years.
“This is real, we are doing it and we are making money from it. We are offering alternatives to cultivation on land that is no longer viable,” Mr Broad said.
“We really are the lucky country, we have farmed the land and now we have the opportunity to monetise revegetating non-productive land.
“We need to recognize this opportunity and take it. Carbon farming has the potential to be a multi billion dollar industry for Australia contributing to the nation’s future prosperity over the next 50 years. CSIRO has done the modelling and that is what they are saying.
“Here in the Mid West we are leading the way in this new industry and it isn’t government paying for tree planting, its corporate Australia and international corporations. This is an export industry but the benefits of what we do are felt here.
“Carbon Neutral already has more than 14,000 hectares under native trees in the Mid West that have received the international Gold Standard certification for premium carbon credits. The Gold Standard certified projects are in the Morawa and Perenjori shires and these new biodiverse forests are creating jobs and spin off industries.
“We take degraded farmland and revegetate it with native species using carbon credits purchased by industry. Some of the forests are being used to develop a new sandalwood industry based on timber and nuts while the grass that grows between the trees is used to graze sheep.
“During the lifetime of the trees they soak up carbon from the atmosphere creating carbon credits, improving the environment and delivering socio-economic benefits. Landholders are paid for their unproductive land and two have even become stewards of the new forests gaining employment with the company.
“One of the spin off industries is based around the planting of special native seedlings that will be used as the pollen stock for bees to make honey.
“We have more than 100,000 Leptospermum seedlings ready to plant that will create forests for our bees to make the high value medicinal Manuka honey. We are employing local indigenous custodians to run the honey business and by the end of the year we will have 1,000 hives.
“Manuka honey is being used in hospitals around the world as an alternative to anti-biotics and fetches ten times the price of normal honey. It is just one example of the value adding and employment generation that comes from carbon farming.”
Mr Broad said carbon farming was a sustainable industry that not only improved land that could no longer be farmed but also provided the basis for long-term employment and economic growth.
“The Mid West is at the forefront of the development of this emerging carbon farming industry internationally and is standing as model for similar industries that could develop on degraded rangelands across Australia.
“There are a million hectares just in this northern agricultural area that could go to carbon farming.
“This is a quiet revolution that really has the potential to change the way we farm and can bring life back into struggling rural communities. It is the future of the Mid West and much of rural Australia.”
FROM OUR GALLERY
Please contact: Kent Broad, Carbon Neutral
Tel: +61 (0)429 812 903
Mr Broad will be speaking today (March 3) at the CEDA (Committee for the Economic Development of Australia) “Future of the Mid West: Delivering the Blueprint State of the Regions Series"