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Reforestation and afforestation

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17 September 2018
Is the method for reforestation and afforestation suitable for your business?
  • Do you want to plant seeds or seedlings on cleared land to establish a permanent forest?
  • Has the land been used for grazing, cropping or been fallow for the last five years?
  • Are you prepared to undertake field measurements of your planted trees?

If you have answered yes to all of these questions, the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative—Reforestation and Afforestation 2.0) Methodology Determination 2015 (the method) may be suitable for your business.

A reforestation and afforestation project involves planting forest trees in agricultural areas. In doing so, the project helps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere, as carbon remains stored in the trees while they grow (referred to as ‘carbon stock’). Net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of a project is referred to as ‘net abatement’.

The forest’s carbon stock is estimated by collecting and analysing tree samples from different parts of the forest. Net abatement is determined by subtracting any emissions from fires and fuel use from the amount of carbon stock. The resulting net abatement can then be used to apply for Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs).

As a sequestration activity, that is, an activity that stores carbon in vegetation or soil, a reforestation and afforestation project is subject to a permanence obligation. This means the sequestration must be maintained for the nominated permanence period (either 25 or 100 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 a reforestation and afforestation project and earn Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). This includes:

Tools and Resources​

Regulatory guidance

Quick reference guide to the method for reforestation and afforestation

This quick reference guide provides basic information about eligibility criteria and obligations that must be met to earn ACCUs from a reforestation and afforestation project. It includes specific links to the relevant legislation but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements.

Contents

Crediting period

​​

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

Eligibility requirements

There are general eligibility requirements in the Act which include:

  • newness
  • additionality and funding from other government programs, and
  • legal right.

A reforestation and afforestation project can be undertaken anywhere in Australia, including external territories. It must involve establishing a permanent planting on land that has been grazed, cropped, or allowed to lie fallow (between grazing and cropping) for at least five years before you apply to run a project. The land must not be cleared native forest and must also be able to support the growth of new forest.

Project Activities

Before you start the project you need to prepare the land for planting new forest trees. If there are trees already on the land they must not be disturbed or removed from the project area, unless done in accordance with section 12 of the method.

Once you have identified your project area you need to define the strata and strata boundaries, ensuring that strata do not overlap.

Stratification is the process of outlining smaller base land units, called strata, within an eligible area of land. Strata show uniform growing characteristics for all trees within them. By defining strata, the change in carbon stocks can be averaged across all growing plots within a stratum to more easily calculate carbon abatement.

A full list of site characteristics that affect tree growth is given in section 17 of the method. These include:

  • tree species
  • time of planting
  • soil type
  • climate, and
  • disturbance history (e.g. fires or disease outbreaks).

You are allowed to carry out one preparation burn in each stratum before planting. You are also allowed to apply fertiliser to each stratum, but no more than once in every 25-year period.

You also need to plan the number of trees to plant per hectare, so that your planting has the potential to achieve forest cover. Recommendations for planting densities for trees that reach different sizes at maturity can be found in Table 1 of the explanatory statement.

Trees can be planted in either belt or block figurations, or a combination of the two, as long as they have the potential to achieve forest cover.

Forest cover is defined as having 20 per cent crown cover at a tree height of at least two metres across an area of at least 0.2 hectares.

Exclusions

In a reforestation and afforestation project, a permanent planting is one that is not harvested and is not a landscape planting. The only exceptions to harvesting are:

  • thinning for ecological purposes
  • removing debris for fire management
  • removing firewood, fruits, nuts, seeds or material for fencing or craft, as long as items are not removed for sale, and
  • removing material in accordance with traditional Indigenous practices or native title rights.

How is abatement calculated?

Abatement is calculated by measuring the change in the amount of carbon stored in a project area through the growth of trees, natural decay, and disturbance events (fire, pest, disease, and storm) minus the emissions resulting from fire and fuel used to establish and maintain the project.

The carbon stored by the project is calculated by directly measuring trees in sample plots using infield measurements, such as full inventory and permanent sample plot assessment.

  • A full inventory refers to a field inventory where sufficient plots are measured within a stratum. A full inventory does not mean that every tree should be measured.
  • A permanent sample plot assessment involves the establishment of permanently marked plots with fixed locations.

The data from the infield measurements along with emissions from fuel use and fire will be used in a series of equations to calculate net abatement.

Reporting requirements

In addition to the record keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule, the method also sets out a specific requirement for offsets reports. This covers reporting when it is not possible to use factors or parameters as at the end of a reporting period.

Applications for ACCUs can be made at the same time as you submit your project reports through the Client Portal using the electronic ERF Project Reporting and Crediting Application form.

Monitoring requirements

In addition to the general monitoring requirements of the Act, projects must meet specific monitoring requirements in the method. These include monitoring growth disturbance events within the strata of the project area.

Record Keeping requirements

This method does not require any record-keeping requirements that are additional to the general record-keeping requirements of the Act and the Rule.

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.

All non-compliance whether accidental or not or through circumstances outside your control must be reported to your auditor and rectified as soon as reasonably possible. For more information see Participant obligations.

Specialist skills

Specialist skills are required to carry out the project. You will need access to forestry expertise, either your own or from external sources, to run the measurements and calculations.

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