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Growing Trees for Fun and Profit

By Dave Cromarty, Regional Landcare Facilitator, North East Landcare

Farmers have been at the forefront of the tree planting movement for years. Apart from the well-known  benefits of regenerating the bush, attracting native wildlife and creating beautiful, natural spaces for generations to come, their motivation has been the flow-on benefits for their land and their hip pockets, including wind breaks, reduced erosion, salinity control, firewood, shelter from extreme weather for livestock and generally increased productivity. The Landcare movement largely grew from farmers’ awareness of the value of trees in the landscape.

Now we’ve become aware of an added bonus; these trees are absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and reducing the atmospheric greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

Recently the Federal Government announced a further co-benefit; the ability to earn an income from selected tree plantings. This came about through the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), introduced in mid-2012 to encourage land-holders to assist in reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is an entirely voluntary scheme, but subject to some overarching principles, for example, plantings must be on cleared land and additional to what would have occurred normally, farmers can participate in the scheme and create tradeable carbon credits.

Although most farmers now realise they are exempt from the carbon tax (at least in so far as any direct taxation), many remain confused about how the CFI works. The scheme covers both the avoidance of emissions as well as sequestration (storage) of atmospheric carbon in vegetation or soil. To date, though, only one farming enterprise in Victoria has registered a revegetation project for participation in the scheme. That may change, however, thanks to a field day being held near Wangaratta later this month. ‘Carbon Farming in Action’ is being hosted by the Regional Landcare Facilitation Project and includes a free barbecue lunch. Topics covered will range from practical advice on site and species selection, planning, establishment, maintenance and harvesting considerations, through to economics and measurement of farm forestry plantations, trees and the carbon cycle, other benefits of tree plantations and an overview of the CFI.

The organisers warmly encourage anyone with an interest in carbon farming to attend.

The field day is being held 10.30am-3.30pm, Sunday 24 March at Byawatha Plantation (near Wangaratta).

For further details see  http://northeast.landcarevic.net.au/events/growing-trees-for-fun-profit-carbon-farming-in-action
RSVP by Wednesday 20 March essential for catering purposes to dave.cromarty@landcarevic.net.au or 0418 691 160.

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