New era of opportunity for Indigenous landholders

The Government's Carbon Farming Initiative, which passed the Parliament yesterday, offers new economic opportunities for Indigenous landholders across the country.

The Government's Carbon Farming Initiative, which passed the Parliament yesterday, offers new economic opportunities for Indigenous landholders across the country.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Mark Dreyfus, welcomed the passage of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011, which makes sure that determined native title holders will benefit from Carbon Farming projects on their land.

The Carbon Farming Initiative is a carbon offsets scheme that will reward farmers, forest growers and Indigenous landholders for putting in place projects that reduce carbon pollution. Landholders will be able to generate credits that can then be sold to other businesses, like those currently participating in the National Carbon Offset Standard, wanting to offset their own carbon pollution.

"Climate change is a global threat, but how we respond in Australia should draw on local know-how, and build on best practice land management that makes sense in Australia, Ms Macklin said.

"The connection of Indigenous Australians to country stretches back more than 40,000 years and spans the ecosystems of sea, river, desert, rainforest, bush and islands. The Carbon Farming Initiative will ensure this invaluable knowledge continues to protect the land while creating new, real and lasting economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.

"Indigenous communities have already started to identify Australian carbon farming opportunities, from better livestock management to the bringing back traditional Indigenous fire management practices in Australia's Top End," Ms Macklin said.

"The Carbon Farming Initiative legislation is underpinned by rigorous standards to ensure that offsets are robust and contains rules to safeguard food production, local communities and the environment, Mr Dreyfus said.

"The Government is working in partnership with Indigenous land managers, industry and scientists to develop more methodologies such as reducing methane emissions from landfills, manure management, savanna burning, livestock management, and management of methane from livestock," Mr Dreyfus said.

"This initiative will enable Australian farmers, foresters and other landholders to tap in to new markets - receiving carbon credits for taking action that makes good economic and environmental sense, like reducing emissions from livestock and fertiliser use, or increasing carbon in soils or vegetation.

In addition to the Carbon Farming Initiative, the recently announced Clean Energy Future plan provides a range of other support measures which Indigenous Australians may be able to access, including:

  • The $22 million Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund, which will be delivered in two streams: research and development; and capacity building and business support.
  • The almost $1 billion Biodiversity Fund to support landholders in establishing new native vegetation and habitats, managing and enhancing existing vegetation, controlling weeds, pests and feral animals.
  • The Remote Indigenous Energy Program that will provide financial support to communities to install renewable energy generation systems, like solar panels and wind turbines - cutting reliance on diesel fuel. About 50 remote Indigenous communities will receive assistance to help manage their energy more efficiently and contribute to improvements in health, education and long-term economic viability.

The Carbon Credits Administrator for the Carbon Farming Initiative will be open for business later this year, with eligible projects able to backdate credits to 1 July 2010.
For further information on the Carbon Farming Initiative visit www.climatechange.gov.au/cfi.

Further information on the Remote Indigenous Energy Program and the Biodiversity Fund visit: http://www.cleanenergyfuture.gov.au/