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Measurement based methods for new farm forestry plantations method

28 August 2017

CFI amendment, August 2017

Following the amendment of the CFI Rule on 16 August 2017, any proposed project must first be assessed by the Minister for Agriculture for its potential to have an adverse impact on agricultural production in the region. This assessment is done through a plantations notification.

All questions about the notification process should be referred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ Climate Policy team. The Climate Policy team can be contacted on 02 6272 3933 or via email at ERFnotification@agriculture.gov.au

Is the measurement based methods for new farm forestry plantations method suitable for your business?

  • Are you able to plant and grow trees as either a permanent planting (no harvest) or new farm forestry plantations (commercial harvesting is permitted)?
  • Did the area where planting will occur include for at least five years before a project starts, land used for grazing or cropping, or land that was fallow between grazing or cropping?
  • Do you have or are you able to access, forestry expertise?

If you have answered yes to these questions, the measurement based methods for new farm forestry plantations method may be suitable for your business.

A farm forestry project involves establishing and maintaining trees on land that has previously been used for grazing or cropping. Trees can be grown as either permanent plantings (no harvest) or in harvest plantations.

To run a farm forestry project, you will require access to forestry expertise – either your own or from external sources – to run the measurements and calculations in the method.

For permanent plantings projects, plantings must be maintained in such a way that they can reach and maintain 20 per cent crown cover. Trees must not be removed from the project area, except where their removal complies with Part 4 of the method. This includes (but is not limited to) prescribed weeds, or where required by law, for management of natural disturbances, removal of debris for fire management, or in accordance with traditional indigenous practice or native title rights.

For harvest projects, you must propose a specific management regime. The proposed regime may include practices such as planting, weed control, harvesting, debris removal, and rotation length. Harvesting is permitted as long as it is done in accordance with the management regime. After harvesting, you must re-establish the project trees by planting, seeding or coppice regrowth, and begin a new management regime cycle.

The management regime cycle must continue for the life of the harvest project, and the practices used in each reporting period must be included in the offsets report for that period. Each management regime must be modelled using the computer modelling tool FullCAM to establish projected carbon stocks for that cycle.

As a sequestration project, that is, a project that stores carbon in vegetation or soil, a measurement based methods for new farm forestry plantations project is subject to a 'permanence obligation'. This means the project must be maintained 'permanently' (for a nominated period of either 100 or 25 years).

Method variations

Section 114 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Ini​tiative) Act 2011 (the Act)​ ​allows for methods to be revised and varied. This is to ensure methods continue to operate as originally intended. Variations to methods are developed and drafted by the Department of the Environment and Energy. Information on draft methods and method variations is available on the Department of the Environment and Energy’s website.

The Clean Energy Regulator recommends making yourself familiar with proposed method variations relevant to your project should they arise, and how any changes between the original method and the varied method may affect your project plan.

Legislative requirements

You must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements to conduct an avoided deforestation project and earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and Resources

Regulatory guidance

Quick reference guide to the measurement based methods for new farm forestry plantations method

The quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from this method. It includes specific links to the relevant legislation but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements. Additional information can also be found in the full method guide linked above.

Contents

Crediting period

Twenty-five years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units.

Relevant section of the Act:

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Eligibility Requirements

There are general eligibility requirements in the Act, which include:

In addition, a project must be located within Australia. For at least five years before the project begins, the project area must have included land used for grazing or cropping, or land that was fallow between grazing or cropping.

A project can be either a harvest plantation or a permanent planting. To be eligible:

  • both types of project must have been established within a certain range of dates, and
  • harvest plantations must also satisfy certain rainfall criteria.

Click for more information on date ranges and rainfall criteria and read the section 'What are the eligibility requirements to run a Farm Forestry project?'.

Part 2 of the method also requires that specific information is included in a project application before the project can be considered eligible. You should ensure you refer to this part and provide all the required information when you make an application to register the project.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Project Activities

A project involves establishing and maintaining trees as either permanent plantings or in harvest plantations. Trees can be planted as seedlings or seeds in belt or block plantings, at a density that will allow them to achieve 'forest cover'. This means that trees must have the potential to grow to at least two metres tall, and reach a crown cover of at least 20 per cent of the area.

Before you begin a project, you need to identify the area in which it will occur and divide it into one or more smaller areas known as strata (or carbon estimation areas), following the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) mapping guidelines and the requirements for delineating boundaries in Part 3 of the method. You then establish a network of sampling plots in each stratum and develop a sampling plan, which includes information such as plot location, size and shape. The sampling plots are used to estimate the amount of carbon stored by your 'project' trees.

For permanent plantings, once the planting is established, it must be maintained in such a way that the trees can reach and maintain crown cover. For harvest projects, you must propose a specific management regime, which may include:

  • planting
  • weed control
  • harvesting
  • debris removal, and rotation length (i.e. the length of time between planting and harvesting).

In general, project trees must not be removed once established, with the main exception being for harvest if you choose to run a harvest project. Removal of project trees is only permitted in those circumstances listed in Sections 4.4 and 4.7 of the method, including:

  • taking samples to calculate the amount of carbon stored, or
  • managing natural disturbances, such as flood, fire, drought or disease.

In certain circumstances, a permanent planting project may be changed to a harvest project, but harvest projects cannot be changed to permanent planting projects.

The Technical Reference Guide for the Measurement Based methods for New Farm Forestry Plantations Methodology Determination 2014 provides all the detailed instructions for the techniques used in running a project.

Click for more information about project activities and setting up the project area.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Exclusions

 

  • Any non-project trees, such as native forest, must not be removed from the project area, except in certain circumstances. For example, removal of non-project trees as required or authorised by law may be carried out in accordance with the relevant law.
  • Trees that can be removed include prescribed weeds, and non-native forest trees that are less than 2 metres tall when the project begins.

 

Relevant section of the Method:

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How is abatement calculated

Abatement is calculated in each reporting period by subtracting emissions from fuel use and fires from the amount of carbon stored in the project trees (called the 'carbon stock').

The carbon stock is estimated by combining FullCAM modelling with physical measurements of project trees (e.g. stem diameter, tree height or crown dimensions), taken during a 'carbon inventory'. Project trees can be either living or dead, and can also be fire-affected, but must be standing. You can also count the carbon stored in forest litter and fallen dead wood, but this is optional.

In the carbon inventory, a certain number of trees in each sampling plot of each stratum are measured. The trees' measurements are then used in mathematical equations called allometric functions, which estimate how much carbon is stored in each stratum. The carbon stock in each stratum in the project area is then added together to work out the total change in carbon stock over the reporting period.

For harvest plantations only, FullCAM is also used to predict the project's average carbon stocks in each stratum and the project as a whole for the reporting period. For more information, see 'Guidance for using FullCAM in Measurement Based Methods in New Farm Forestry Plantations'

Click for more detail on calculating abatement, emissions and carbon stock.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Reporting Requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Division 7.4 of the method also sets out the following requirements for offset reports.

All reports must contain information relating to:

  • project type and management regime
  • strata locations and descriptions
  • sampling plans
  • emissions, carbon stocks and abatement calculations
  • FullCAM modelling and allometric functions
  • growth disturbances
  • fuel use, and
  • quality assurance and control measures.

In addition, your first report must contain information relating to:

  • the history of land use and forest cover, and
  • descriptions of the project area and strata.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Monitoring Requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, Section 7.2 of the method sets out the following specific monitoring requirements.

Project areas can be monitored using:

  • on-ground inspections and surveys, and
  • remote monitoring, such as interpretation of aerial or satellite imagery.

Any changes or disturbances should also be monitored, to ensure that project trees have reached or have the potential to reach the height and crown cover requirements.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Record-keeping requirements

In addition to the record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, Division 7.3 of the method sets out that projects must meet specific record-keeping requirements. These include records relating to:

  • strata descriptions, locations and area
  • sampling plans
  • project tree measures and allometric functions
  • carbon stock calculations
  • fuel use, and
  • quality assurance and control measures.

 

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

Relevant section of the Method:

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Audits

All projects receive an audit schedule when the project is declared and must provide audit reports according to this schedule. A minimum of three audits will be scheduled and additional audits may be triggered. For more information on the audit requirements, see the Act, the Rule and the audit information on our website.

Relevant section of the Act:

Relevant section of the Rule:

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Specialist skills

Specialist skills will be required to carry out the project with the method. You will require access to forestry expertise – either your own or from external sources – to run the measurements and calculations.

Relevant section of the Rule:

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