Answers on cattle station turning carbon sink

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Federal Government scheme which turned the Henbury cattle station south of Alice Springs into “the world’s largest carbon farm” will be a model for other pastoralists wishing to diversify, says Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke.

He says so far there no similar applications have been made for funding under the National Reserve System which contributed $9m – two-thirds of the purchase price.

The new owners, RM Williams Agricultural Holdings, are planning to turn the 500,000 hectare property “into a nature reserve, effectively removing thousands of cattle from the food chain,” as Nationals Senator Fiona Nash puts it.

She also asked what checks and balances are in place to ensure accountability for the taxpayers’ contribution and would RM Williams have to repay the grant if the property is sold?

How much of the revenue from carbon trading will be invested back into the Henbury project, and how much will go to the company’s profits?

Mr Burke replied: “By establishing the science and the economic model for generating income from carbon farming, Henbury will offer a new potential income stream for pastoralists who wish to diversify.

“A key requirement of the funding deed is an in-perpetuity conservation covenant for the property.

“If the property were to be sold, the new owner would need to manage it for conservation under the same conservation covenant.

“The contract ensures that any revenue first funds the ongoing conservation of the property.

“There are also measures for distribution of any additional revenue to investors and new in-perpetuity conservation trusts.”

Alice Springs News Online asked Mr Burke whether there is an opportunity for Aboriginal landholders to get some income from carbon credits, using Henbury as a template. If so, how would it work?

Mr Burke said Henbury “will act as a large demonstration project testing the potential to store carbon in Australia’s rangelands and to create an alternative income stream for landholders from carbon credits, including Aboriginal landholders.”

Photo above: The Finke and the Palmer Rivers flow through Henbury Station. The Finke is the oldest river in the world. Below: The homestead. Photos Federal Government.

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4 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted September 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    @Bob Burdon … thanks for your commentary Bob. Unfortunately a decade ago we were told that global warming was a crisis. When it was proven that global warming cycles were no worse now than they have been in the past, the catch cry became climate change. What bothers me is that the government has made a knee-jerk reaction on information that is at least suspect if not incorrect. The carbon tax they intend to fob onto us is simply another means of filling the coffers and redistributing wealth. One has to be worried when a tax is so bad that almost everyone has to be compensated for the impact it creates. If they begin turning valuable assets into “carbon sinks”, it will be even worse. There is plenty of evidence that the IPCC modelling predicting monotonic climate warming is already wrong. The IPCC is a politically correct alarmist pressure group that has generated this current panic based on unreliable computer modelling; global temperature is too complex to predict by modelling. Even if it were accurate, the ‘base case’ bipartisan plan is to reduce Australia’s emissions by 5% by 2020 which is about 0.0000045% (roughly a 22 millionth!). And for this, our economy has to undergo unnecessary and painful disruption. Spain has gone down this path and it’s been a social and economic disaster. See here: http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf
    The government should have done its homework before going down the carbon taxation route. All we can hope for is that the bills are defeated and we have time to get our facts correct before embarking on such a large, impactful action against Australians.

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  2. Bob Durnan
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Whilst you can’t argue with removing cattle from semi-arid areas that are subject to major erosion and dust storms even without their presence, this purchase – based on a carbon-sink rationale – does seem a bit counter-intuitive: why would you choose to put a “carbon farm” pilot project in a semi-arid area which can’t support a high vegetation/high carbon load, and is subject to regular buffel-fuelled high intensity fire events wiping out most of whatever vegetation does manage to grow …
    However, Tony @2: I think the point of this agricultural (pastoral? horticultural?) experiment was not so much supposed to be the removal of methane generation, but rather the storage of carbon, in in wood and foliage and roots etc.
    Robin @1: I don’t see any sense in worrying about this or other carbon-abatement strategies being “a plot to destroy Australia and turn us into a lot of backward drones”. The reality is that we and other existing life forms have evolved in a certain range of atmospheric carbon levels, and many of us are likely to find it extremely difficult to cope with some of the consequences of the (relatively) rapidly changing carbon balance, because of the likely consequences in a whole range of areas, not least the increasingly extreme weather events and temperature cycles. If countries like Australia don’t lead by example (the way Europe, California and parts of China are), with effective policies appropriate to our wealth and consumption levels, it is not likely that many much poorer countries, such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan, and most others in our region, will be persuaded to take much action at all. And if they don’t take action, we will be really in the shit. Australia will be in a much stronger position to pressure them if we establish an effective carbon-offsets trading scheme, and also halt the rate of increased carbon generation, or even reduce our own actual carbon contributions, in Australia.

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  3. Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I’ve a bunch of trees in my back yard that suck up carbon … can I get a carbon credit … or perhaps a tax offset?
    The anti-carbon religion seems to be taking over and seems like nothing more than a plot to destroy Australia and turn us into a lot of backward drones.
    While I’m first to acknowledge that we need to care for the planet and do what we can to minimize any adverse impact we have upon it, even scientists can’t agree on whether carbon, a natural and necessary element, found almost everywhere in the universe, is dangerous.
    If the carbon-related legislation goes through, Australia will begin a steep decline that we can well do without, especially at a time when the Global Financial and political scene is so bad.

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  4. tony sanderson
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    i think i must be missing something here / they sell a productive property de stock it and it becomes a carbon sink hole / is this because the methane production is removed? the people who dream up these ideas would believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden / if Governments keep letting pastoral properties being sold off for environmental purposes Australian pastoral beef and sheep production will be decimated / then we can import it / woooow /

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