The take home message from a recent Carbon Farming Awareness Workshop was œto manage for carbon is to manage for ecological health and production.
The Workshop, held in Perth as part of the Royalties for Regions Carbon Farming Awareness Program, provided an open forum for attendees to learn about the ‘bigger picture’ of carbon farming.
Speakers at the event included Dr Peter Russell, Senior Rangeland Scientist at Rangelands NRM who spoke on the current international, national, state and regional context for carbon farming and Dr Henry Brockman, Project Manager Carbon Farming at the WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) who provided an overview of current carbon research occurring in Australia and the state of the Australian Carbon Market from a West Australian perspective.
This was followed by an update from each WA regional natural resource management (NRM) group about their approach to the Planning for Climate Change projects and how they aligned to regional strategies.
Rangelands NRM CEO Dr Gaye Mackenzie said the concept of Carbon Farming is still evolving and quite complex.
“The carbon farming space is a dynamic one and we need to work together to make the most of emerging knowledge and expertise across a range of industry sectors,” she said.
“The opportunities for land managers and farmers in terms of best practice resource management resulting in productivity gains, makes understanding carbon a necessity,” Dr Mackenzie said.
Perth Region NRM Program and Business Development Coordinator, Victoria Maguire said the regional NRM groups endeavour to keep abreast of changes in regards to policy around carbon farming, and provide their stakeholders with balanced and relevant information.
“The collective are working towards developing an understanding in regional WA of the productivity, profitability and sustainability potential of carbon farming, and supporting communities to responsibly manage their natural resources,” Ms Maguire said.
A cross-regional collaborative project is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate the importance of the regional NRM groups to local communities and connecting to the ‘coalface’ of agriculture that state departments would not achieve within a short timeframe.
“This is an example of great collaboration between regional groups and has assisted in creating a ‘united voice’ across the carbon farming sphere; that is not linked to national or state messages, but a uniquely NRM voice,” Ms Maguire said.
The regional groups have well-established networks and the ability to leverage funding from other sources, such as Action on the Ground grants, Regional Landcare Facilitator funding and corporate sponsorship as well as being well-connected to a diversity of industry organisations.
The regional NRM groups will continue to explore innovative ideas around carbon farming and provide leadership and informed decision making to their communities.
The Carbon Farming Awareness Project is unique, illustrating a collaborative effort between the West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food and WA regional NRM groups: Rangelands NRM, South Coast NRM, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council, South West Catchment Council NRM, Wheatbelt NRM and Perth Region NRM in discussing carbon farming initiatives.
This project aligns well with the Royalties for Regions outcome of building capacity, retaining benefits, attaining sustainability, expanding opportunity and growing prosperity in regional communities.
Perth Region NRM’s role in this project is to lead the collaboration and ensure all of the milestones for the project are met through the administration of the program.
Rangelands NRM was instrumental in attracting the Royalties for Regions funding, and quickly realised a perfect opportunity to encourage collaboration between the regional groups.
The Carbon Farming Awareness Program delivers by:
- Building regional stakeholders’ understanding of the potential for and risks associated with carbon farming
- Building expertise in understanding of carbon farming in regional NRM groups to provide on-going support to land managers
- Improving options for sustainable farming systems and allowing for better management of areas of significant environmental concern
- Providing regional capacity to take advantage of carbon policies where applicable
- Readying land managers to make informed decisions that will increase their profitability when considering carbon farming opportunities.