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Avoided deforestation method

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12 September 2016

Is the avoided deforestation method suitable for your business?

  • Do you have land in Australia that covers an area of at least 0.2 hectares, and is dominated by trees that are at least two metres tall and provide crown cover of at least 20 per cent of the land area?
  • Do you have a valid clearing consent issued before 1 July 2010?
  • Does the clearing consent state that clearing is permitted for the purposes of permanently converting the forest to cropland or grassland, not to plantation or settlements?

If you have answered yes to these questions, the avoided deforestation method may be suitable for your business.

An avoided deforestation project protects native forest in areas that would otherwise be cleared for crops or grassland. A project using this method helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere, because carbon remains stored in the trees as they grow, and the emissions that would have been created by clearing are avoided. The carbon stored in the trees is called carbon stock, while the net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of a project is called abatement.

An avoided deforestation project has three major prerequisites. First, a project must be located in Australia, including external territories. Second, the area of the project must have forest cover at the time of your application to the Clean Energy Regulator. Third, a clearing consent for the forest must have been issued before 1 July 2010 and must state that clearing is permitted for the purposes of permanently converting the forest to cropland or grassland, not to plantation or settlements.

The forest must be managed to achieve a mix, in terms of composition and structure, of trees, shrubs and understorey plants that occur naturally in the area of the project. The person responsible for the project must not have a license or permit to remove wood from the forest for commercial purposes or firewood. However, they may collect up to five per cent of wood for personal use, such as fencing or household firewood.

The forest's carbon stock is calculated by collecting and analysing tree samples from different parts of the forest. Using a series of mathematical equations, the data from the sample trees are used to estimate the amount of carbon stored in all the eligible areas of the forest. The net amount of abatement during a project's reporting period is determined by subtracting any actual emissions due to fires and fuel use from the theoretical emissions that would have been caused if clearing had occurred.

As a sequestration project, that is, a project that stores carbon in vegetation or soil, an avoided deforestation 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 avoided deforestation 1.1 method

The quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from an avoided deforestation project. It includes links to the legislation, but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements.

Quick reference guide contents:

Crediting period

Fifteen years – The crediting period is the period of time a project can apply to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

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 in Australia, including external territories, and the project area must have forest cover. Land has forest cover if it covers an area of at least 0.2 hectares, and is dominated by trees that are at least two metres tall and provide crown cover of at least 20 per cent of the land area.

A clearing consent for the forest must have been issued before 1 July 2010. There are very specific requirements for the clearing consent detailed in part 3 Section 10 of the method. The clearing consent must state that clearing is permitted for the purposes of permanently converting the forest to cropland or grassland.

Part 3 of the method requires that specific information and evidence (including imagery of the area and a copy of the clearing consent) 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.

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Project Activities

A project protects native forest in areas that would otherwise be cleared for crops or grassland. The forest must be managed to achieve a mix, in terms of composition and structure, of trees, shrubs and understorey plants that occur naturally in the area of the project.

You may thin trees in the forest for the purposes of promoting biodiversity or vegetation growth, as long as at least 95 per cent of the thinned wood remains in the area it was thinned. You may collect up to 5 per cent of wood from the forest for personal uses, such as fencing or household firewood.

You need to divide, or stratify, the project area into:

  • carbon estimation areas, which are the areas of your project where carbon will be stored and for which ACCUs may be issued
  • exclusion zones where activities are not conducted, such as a road, building or dam, and
  • clearing buffers, which are parts of your forest that must not be cleared (only if specified by your pre-existing clearing consent). As an example, if a clearing consent states that 20 per cent of the area covered by a clearing consent must be maintained, then under the method, the proponent must map out a clearing buffer equal in hectares to that 20 per cent mentioned in the clearing consent. 

The boundaries of each carbon estimation area must be defined in accordance with the Carbon Farming Initiative Mapping Guidelines using field surveys, aerial photography, satellite imagery or maps.

Click for further information about project activities.

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Exclusions

 

  • The native forest cannot be converted to plantation or settlements.
  • Wood cannot be removed from the forest for commercial purposes or firewood.
  • Projects fitting the situations listed in Section 3.36 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011 are excluded. For example, a project would be excluded if its clearing consent was granted on the basis that the clearing of native forest would lead to an environmental improvement or benefit.

 

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How is abatement calculated

Net abatement is calculated by subtracting project emissions from the project baseline.

Project emissions are those that result from retaining and maintaining the forest, including fuel use and any natural disturbances, such as degradation or fire. When determining the project's emissions, you may optionally subtract 'removals', which is the amount of carbon dioxide taken up and stored as carbon by the trees as they grow.

The project baseline is the amount of carbon (i.e. the carbon stock) that would remain stored in the project area if the activities permitted by your clearing consent went ahead. The forest's carbon stock is estimated using a series of mathematical equations, which use data obtained by collecting and analysing tree samples from different parts of the forest.

The baseline takes into account the following:

  • calculations of the amount of carbon stock
  • theoretical emissions from fires that would normally follow clearing, and
  • a deforestation plan, which identifies alternative uses of land that would have occurred if your forest was cleared.

Click for further information about calculating the project emissions, project baseline and abatement.

Relevant section of the Method:

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Reporting Requirements

In addition to the reporting requirements of the Act and the Rule, Sections 67–68 of the method set out method-specific requirements for the first and subsequent offset reports. This includes providing information related to the:

  • baseline deforestation plan
  • evidence of the mix of species, and
  • map of the project area.
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Monitoring Requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, Section 73 of the method sets out that the project area must be monitored for disturbances using remotely sensed imagery.

Relevant section of the Act:

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Record-keeping requirements

In addition to the record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, Section 71 of the method sets out that records must be kept in relation to remotely sensed imagery as described in Section 22.

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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.

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Specialist skills

To ensure the required level of accuracy in the calculations of carbon stock, the collection and analysis of tree samples should be conducted by technical experts. You should consider the cost of this service before deciding to run a project.

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