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Plantation forestry method

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17 June 2022

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2022 plantation forestry method

The 2022 plantation forestry method builds on the 2017 method to provide more opportunities for the plantation forestry industry to participate in the ERF.

The 2017 method was revoked on 28 February 2022. Existing projects registered under the 2017 method may be impacted by the revocation of the 2017 method. The guidance linked below sets out key considerations and options for existing projects registered under the 2017 method.

Is the plantation forestry method suitable for your business?

  • Are you considering establishing a new plantation forest?
  • Do you manage an existing short rotation plantation forest?
  • Would participating in the ERF incentivise you to continue plantation activities or transition to a permanent forest, under circumstances where you would have otherwise converted that land to non-forested land in the absence of the ERF?

If you answered yes to one of these questions, the plantation forestry method may be suitable for your business.

Project activities and eligibility requirements

A project under the 2022 plantation forestry method sequesters carbon as the trees grow. Four activities can be conducted under the plantation forestry method, each with different eligibility requirements.

  • Establishing a new plantation forest:
    • There must not have been a plantation forest or native forest on the land in the previous 7 years.
  • Converting a short-rotation plantation to a long-rotation plantation
    • The plantation forest must be in, or within 100 kilometres of, a national plantation inventory (NPI) region.
    • The conversion may occur either part-way through the short-rotation plantation cycle, or following harvest of a short-rotation plantation.
  • Continuing rotational harvest cycles in a plantation forest:
    • The land must not have been, nor will need to be, cleared of native forest,
    • The land must be in, or within 50 kilometres of, an NPI region
    • The plantation forest must be of an age (or was harvested at an age) that is within 2 years or older of the relevant default clearfell age in Schedule 6 under the method, and
    • Evidence must be provided that the land would have otherwise been converted to a viable, non-forested land use within 24 months, or remain as fallow land.
  • Transitioning a plantation forest to a permanent forest, in situations where that plantation is at risk of being converted to non-forested land:
    • The land must not have been, nor will need to be, cleared of native forest, and
    • Evidence must be provided that the land would have otherwise been converted to a viable, non-forested land use within 24 months, or remain as fallow land.

For all projects, the plantation forest must not be managed under a forestry managed investment scheme.

Guidance available

The Clean Energy Regulator has released the following guidance products:

Plantation forestry notifications

Before the Clean Energy Regulator can register a plantation project, participants must notify the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment of their proposal and the Minister for Agriculture must assess whether the project may lead to an undesirable impact on agricultural production in the region in which the project is to be located. If an adverse finding is made by the Minister, a project will be ineligible to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund under the plantation forestry method.

More information on the notification process is available from the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015 and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website, or email ERFnotifications@agriculture.gov.au.

Managing the effects of commercial tree plantings on water availability in locations where average rainfall exceeds 600 millimetres (the water rule)

Plantation forestry projects must meet conditions designed to help manage the effects of commercial tree plantings on water availability in locations where average annual rainfall exceeds 600 millimetres. Projects located in a ‘specified region’ are considered to meet the water rule. Stakeholders considering a new project should note the specified regions may be updated from time to time. Current specified regions maps and further information on other ways projects can meet these conditions can be found on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website here.

Abatement calculation and permanence period

The plantation forestry method requires accounting for carbon stock changes in trees, debris, and harvested forest products, taking into account forest growth, disturbances and harvesting. It also accounts for carbon stock changes and emissions due to management activities such as thinning, pruning, fertilising and controlled burning, and emissions from fossil fuel use.

Project participants must use the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) to calculate their project’s carbon stock consistent with the requirements of the documentasset:FullCAM Guidelines for the 2022 plantation forestry method.

Participants can choose either a 25 or 100-year permanence period. To ensure the plantation forestry method is consistent with the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011, a permanence period discount of 25 per cent is applied to abatement for projects which elect a 25-year permanence period and involve:

  • Establishing a new short-rotation (20 years or less) plantation; or
  • Continuing plantation forestry.

A 20 per cent permanence discount is applied to all other plantation forestry projects that elect a 25-year permanence period. Projects that elect a 100-year permanence period do not receive a permanence period discount.

An additional discount of 25 per cent applies to plantations that transition to a permanent forest that is not an environmental planting and elect a 25-year permanence period.

All ERF sequestration projects, such as the projects under this method, are also subject to the risk of reversal buffer of a 5% reduction in carbon credits issued for sequestration abatement. The risk of reversal buffer is intended to protect the ERF against temporary losses of carbon and residual risks that cannot be managed by the other permanence arrangements.

Legislative requirements

Before participating under the plantation forestry method, you must read and understand the method and other legislative requirements, including:

Method development process

The plantation forestry method was made by the Minister in January 2022.

For information on public consultation and consideration of the method by the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC), visit the plantation forestry method page on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ consultation hub.

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