The aim of this project was to enable informed discussion by
members of the northern Australian community on the potential
benefits of being involved in carbon trading ventures. A scoping
document will summarise the current status of the global carbon
trading market and associated concepts such as biodiversity credits
and social credits. Implications and opportunities for landholders
and leaseholders, including Indigenous people, to implement carbon
sequestering regimes in different areas will be assessed. From
this, key research questions will be identified in order to provide
the information needed to underpin the developing market.
- Review the present situation with regard to global carbon
markets and the developing national market.
- Review the present situation with regard to biodiversity
credits, potential environmental issues related to
sequestration/biodiversity trade-offs, and our current
understanding of carbon storage in different ecosystems and
- Produce a scoping document on carbon trading and
- Identify the key research questions for establishing carbon
trading ventures in northern Australia.
There has been considerable discussion and speculation about the
carbon trading market and how this might apply to changed land
management practices in northern Australia.
Many people are familiar with terms such as ‘greenhouse
gas’, ‘carbon trading’ and ‘carbon
credits’ but are very unclear about what it all means and how
it may apply to them individually, as companies interested in
trading, or as a community. New concepts such as social credits and
biodiversity credits are also emerging, with the links between
carbon/social/biodiversity credits and trade-offs not yet
There is significant speculation that global (and local) trading
may provide a new economic base for property holders in northern
Australia. For example, the Northern Territory’s West
Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) project is providing a model
for Indigenous communities to access global markets through changes
to burning practices.
The WALFA project has demonstrated that emissions are
significantly lessened by early fire-season burning compared to
late fire-season wildfires. Changed burning practices lead to
potential carbon savings which can be traded. Where burning is
undertaken by Traditional Owners, there is a social value-adding
component, allowing such carbon to be traded at a premium.
Industries and communities in other areas are keen to investigate
similar links and it is important that the concepts are clearly
Regarding biodiversity credits, accounting methods are being
developed for rainforests but monitoring systems for rangelands are
not as well developed.
It is also unclear how the different credit systems
interconnect. For example, removing fire from the landscape may
sequester carbon, but there may be biodiversity changes as a
The relationship between soil carbon and grazing practices also
needs to be considered. In short, there are potential
ecological and economic gains to be made by successfully managing
payment for environmental services.
A simple, clear and precise discussion of the global carbon
trading market, how it works, the issues involved, and what this
might mean for landholders and leaseholders in northern Australia
A scoping document that considers the global carbon market, the
requirements of potential buyers, and current environmental
information and issues, will enable informed discussion by members
of the northern Australian community. It will also allow
identification of the key research questions to address in order to
implement carbon sequestering regimes in different areas.