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Savanna fire management - sequestration and emissions avoidance

04 December 2018

Contents​

The savanna fire management—sequestration and emissions avoidance method credits activities that must include planned fire management to increase carbon sequestration in dead organic matter and avoid emissions by reducing the frequency and intensity of late dry season fires in northern Australia.

As carbon sequestration can be reversed, there are permanence obligations for projects participating under this method.

Eligibility

For projects to be eligible under this method, they must involve:

  • savanna fire management with the objective of avoiding emissions from the unplanned, late dry season burning of savannas and sequestering carbon in dead organic matter, and
  • annual planned burning in each project area.

Project areas must:

There are a number of other requirements for projects under this method, including:

  • annual project management plans (Part 3 section 17 of the determination) must be prepared prior to commencing burning each calendar year. These can be modified during the fire season to reflect actual conditions.
  • relevant eligible interest holder consents are obtained either before project registration for transferring projects, or before credits can be issued for new projects, and
  • vegetation fuel type maps are created, validated and revised as required. More information on vegetation fuel type maps can be found in the savanna technical guidance document.

Participants that apply under the savanna sequestration and emissions avoidance method are required to provide information at the registration and reporting stages of participation that is additional to the requirements under savanna emissions avoidance methods.

Permanence obligations

Carbon stored in vegetation and soil can be released back into the atmosphere by human-induced or natural events, reversing the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental benefit of the carbon that has been sequestered. For this reason, all sequestration projects are subject to permanence obligations to maintain any carbon stores for which Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) have been issued.

The Emissions Reduction Fund requires participants of sequestration projects to choose either a 25-year or 100-year permanence period in their project application. Once nominated, the permanence period cannot be varied.

Permanence obligations require participants to maintain sequestered carbon in the project area for the duration of the permanence period. This means that projects under this method must maintain carbon stores in dead organic matter by undertaking fire management activities for at least the chosen permanence period—either 25 or 100 years. This includes maintaining carbon stores for the period after the crediting period has finished, until the end of the permanence period.

If sequestered carbon is not maintained, or if the project is revoked, proponents may need to relinquish ACCUs that have been issued, or pay penalty charges, and may be subject to a carbon maintenance obligation if credits are not relinquished.

For more information, see the permanence obligations page.

Sequestration buffer

Projects under this method are subject to a sequestration buffer, which combines the risk of reversal buffer and the permanence period discount usually applied to other sequestration methods. The buffer applies only to sequestration abatement, and is applied in the net abatement calculations in the method.

For:

  • 25 year permanence period projects, the sequestration buffer is 25%.
  • 100 year permanence period projects, the sequestration buffer is 5%.

Monitoring and excluding weeds

This method includes a requirement for projects (Part 3 section 14) to monitor and remove relevant weed species from project areas. Currently, the only weed that must be monitored and excluded is gamba grass (Andropgon gayanus). Projects are not able to claim Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) for project areas that contain gamba grass.

If gamba grass is identified in a project area, it must be excluded by either:

  1. Removing the gamba grass from the project area before the end of the reporting period in which it is first identified. A map and evidence of weed clearing must be provided with the relevant offsets report.
  2. Removing the project area that contains the gamba grass by subdividing the project and removing the area that contains gamba grass from the project (in accordance with section 15 of the method). An area removed from the project is removed permanently.

More information about monitoring relevant weed species can be found in the savanna technical guidance document, under tools and user manuals.

Subdivision of project areas

Project areas may be subdivided, which enables required removal of areas that contain weed species or no longer meet other project area requirements (Part 3 section 14 of the determination), such as including vegetation fuel types.

When an area is removed due to subdivision, all Australian carbon credit units issued in relation to that area must be relinquished.

When an ineligible area is removed via subdivision, it cannot be included or reintroduced to the project or introduced to any other projects under this method or the savanna fire management—emissions avoidance method. If participants wish to subdivide their project area, they must apply to the Clean Energy Regulator using the Emissions Reduction Fund project variation form in the client portal.

Transferring your project

Participants may submit an application to the Clean Energy Regulator to transfer their projects to this method from other savanna fire management methods. A project under a closed savanna fire management method can transfer to this method or to the savanna fire management—emissions avoidance method. Once a project has transferred from a closed method to one of the current savanna fire management methods it cannot transfer back to its original method.

To transfer to this method, projects under savanna fire management methods that only credit emissions avoidance must transfer through one of the processes outlined in the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015 (the Rule). This requires the existing project to be revoked and a new project to be declared, as detailed below.

Please see Transferring your project to the 2018 savanna fire management methods for more information.

Transferring an entire project

To transfer an entire project to this method from a savanna fire management method that only credits emissions avoidance, proponents must submit a transfer application, including revocation of a current project, declaration of a new project with identical project areas, and evidence that all eligible interest holder consents have been obtained in relation to the new project.

Before a new project can be declared under this process, an offsets report (Part 6 division 2 of the rule) must be submitted for the current project that covers the most recent full calendar year, and all related Certificates of Entitlement (Part 2 section 7 of the rule) and Australian carbon credit units must have been issued. There must also be sufficient time for the new project to be declared before 1 December of that year.

Projects that transfer to this method must start their crediting period in the calendar year immediately following the last calendar year reported on under their previous method. It is recommended that applications to transfer to this method be submitted as early as possible in the year, along with offsets reports and applications for credits that cover the previous calendar year.

Projects that transfer to the method within five years of the method being made will receive a 25 year crediting period under the new method. If the transfer is more than five years after the method is made, the crediting period will be 25 years minus any years that elapsed in the last crediting period under the previous method.

Transferring part of a project area

If participants wish to transfer part of a project area/s to a new project under this method, they must first transfer the relevant project area/s to the savanna fire management—emissions avoidance method. Projects are then able to subdivide the project area and apply to transfer one or more subdivided project areas to this method as a new project.

Calculation of net abatement from emissions avoidance and sequestration

Under this method, participants can either complete their net abatement calculations (Part 4, section 34 of the determination) manually, or use the appropriate version of the Savanna Burning Abatement Tool(SavBAT).

Under this method, net abatement is calculated separately for each project area for the sequestration and emissions avoidance components. Amounts for emission avoidance and sequestration and for each project area are then added together to determine total net abatement for each project for each calendar year of the crediting period.

Net abatement for sequestration

Net abatement from sequestration is calculated by determining, for each project area, the mean annual difference between the equilibrium level of carbon stored in coarse and heavy fuels in the project years and the baseline period. The difference in carbon stored reflects the change in fire management practices.

The baseline equilibrium fuel load is calculated over a ten year period for project areas in the high rainfall zone, and 15 years for project areas in the low rainfall zone. The project equilibrium fuel load is calculated over all project years to that point in time.

The mean annual difference between the project and baseline equilibrium fuel loads is divided by the length of the crediting period to reflect the time it takes to reach a new sequestration equilibrium. Credits are received for this annual change in stored carbon.

Emissions from fire will vary between years due to the type and extent of fire management activities undertaken, the amount of unplanned fires and normal climate variability. As a result, credits generated in each project year will differ considerably between years. In some years, project emissions may exceed baseline emissions and net abatement may be negative. If project equilibrium fuel loads in a project area in a project year are below the baseline equilibrium fuel load, the negative abatement amount is deducted from net abatement in the subsequent project year.

The sequestration component of net abatement is subject to the sequestration buffer—a five or 25 per cent discount on net abatement, equivalent to the risk of reversal buffer and 25 year permanence period discount usually applied to sequestration projects.

Net abatement for emissions avoidance

Net abatement from emissions avoidance is calculated by determining, for each project area, the difference between methane and nitrous oxide emissions in the baseline period and each project year. The difference between mean baseline and annual project emissions reflects the change in emissions resulting from a change in fire management practices as a consequence of the project. If the project contains more than one project area, then net abatement for each project area is summed to give net project abatement.

The baseline period for project areas under this method is ten years for project areas in the high rainfall zone, and 15 years for project areas in the low rainfall zone.

Emissions from fire will vary between years due to the type and extent of fire management activities undertaken, the amount of unplanned fires and normal climate variability. As a result, credits generated in each project year will differ considerably between years. In some years, project emissions may exceed baseline emissions and net abatement may be negative.

To accurately account for years with net negative abatement, an ‘uncertainty buffer’ is used. Contributions of up to ten per cent of net abatement for a project area are made to the uncertainty buffer in each year of net positive abatement, to a maximum threshold of five per cent of the mean annual baseline emissions. If net abatement is negative for a project year, then the negative amount is offset by withdrawing from the uncertainty buffer. If the negative abatement exceeds the amount in the uncertainty buffer, proponents do not receive further credits in subsequent years until the uncertainty buffer is no longer negative.

Legislative requirements

Before participating under the Savanna fire management—Sequestration and Emissions Avoidance 2018 method, participants must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements, including:

Tools and resources​​

The tools and resources provides links to relevant legislation and key information but should not be viewed as an alternative to reading the full legislative requirements.

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