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Clarifying requirements for where clearing buffers should be placed for Avoided Deforestation projects

29 November 2016

 

Paragraph 3.5 of the Avoided Deforestation methodology determination 2013 details the requirements for establishing clearing buffers where a clearing consent states that an area of land cannot be cleared.

The area of land that cannot be cleared may be expressed as a percentage of that land covered by the clearing consent.

The methodology determination requires that, if the clearing consent provides that an area of native forest may not be cleared, at least one clearing buffer must be included in the project area. The clearing buffer must have a total area equivalent to the area that may not be cleared under the clearing consent.

A clearing consent, sometimes known as a property vegetation plan, may identify the area covered as area(s) of 'invasive native species' or by terms other than 'native forest'.

In relation to projects commencing before 1 January 2013, the project mechanism must protect native forest in the project area that was native forest as at 31 December 1989 (known as the 'project native forest area').

The effect of this provision is that a clearing buffer is only required to be placed within the project native forest area, as defined in paragraph 2.3 of the determination, if:

  1. the clearing permit explicitly states that an area of native forest, that was native forest as at 31 December 1989, may not be cleared; or
  2. the area of land that is proposed as the carbon estimation area, being an area that was native forest as at 31 December 1989, is of such a size that the clearing buffer cannot be placed within the project area without impinging on the proposed carbon estimation area.

If (a) applies, the project proponent will be required to place the clearing buffer entirely within the project native forest area regardless of the size of the project native forest area relative to any clearing buffer requirement in the clearing consent (Figure 1).

If (b) applies the project proponent will need to reduce the size of the carbon estimation area so that the clearing buffer can be accommodated within the project area to which the clearing permit applies. In doing so, the clearing buffer will no longer impinge on the area identified as the carbon estimation area (Figure 2).

This provision does not apply to projects that commence on or after 1 January 2013.

Information a proponent must provide about clearing buffers

The determination requires the project proponent to provide a deforestation plan (paragraph 3.12) which must include the spatial extent of any part of the native forest not authorised by the clearing consent to be cleared, and the spatial extent of each clearing buffer. This means any required clearing buffer should be identified in the spatial information provided as part of the offsets report.

Figure 1. If a clearing consent explicitly states that the project native forest area may not be cleared, a clearing buffer must be placed within the project native forest area and not overlap with other parts of the project area.

Figure 2. If the area of land identified as the carbon estimation area (CEA) is of a size that a clearing buffer cannot be placed within the project area without impinging on the proposed carbon estimation area, you need to reduce the size of the CEA. The clearing buffer can then be accommodated within the project area to which the clearing permit applies without impinging on the area of land identified as the carbon estimation area.

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