As CEO of Greenfleet, I proudly announce that the first two of our biodiverse reforestation projects have been registered under the Clean Energy Regulator’s Carbon Farming Initiative.
The two sites are located in Victoria: Old Gobur Road, a property near Merton in North East Victoria, and Whirrakee, a site near Wedderburn in Victoria’s Central Goldfields. Greenfleet has recently purchased its first fully-owned site, 'Avoca', near West Wyalong in the Central West region of New South Wales. Avoca is a large site, with over 900 hectares that can be used for direct seeding as well as a large area of remnant vegetation. Greenfleet aims to register this project, with others shortly and it is our intention to register as many CFI projects as is economically feasible.
We believe that by registering our projects under the CFI, we are receiving validation from the independent peak body that the forests that we plant will capture carbon emissions. This gives assurance to our supporters that when they support Greenfleet, their emissions will be offset. It also means that our forests can compete with other independently verified offsets whether here or abroad.
Greenfleet differs from some other organisations that offer offsetting through reforestation because we create Australian biodiverse forests with seeds sourced from trees local to the area which is a point of difference from some other organisations that create single species (monoculture) forests. While monoculture forests capture greenhouse gases, they do not create biodiverse habitats necessary to support wildlife. We are proud that our sites contribute to creating native wildlife corridors.
The Avoca site, for instance, borders the Buddigower Nature Reserve, which is home to the endangered mallee fowl, shy heath-wren and southern scrub robin. We feel that it is important that in addition to offsetting carbon, Greenfleet forests also create habitat for Australian wildlife. Furthermore, our biodiverse reforestation projects improve catchment quality by preventing erosion, and create a landscape that is more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Registering projects under the CFI also shows that large emitters with carbon liabilities have the option of investing in carbon credits that not only sequester carbon but enhance investment in biodiversity as well. It demonstrates that biodiverse forests are a feasible, low risk and proven model for carbon abatement.
The Carbon Farming Initiative is still in its early stages but it is a major breakthrough after many years through which the industry was subject to significant regulatory uncertainty. Finally seeing projects registered is an important milestone and demonstrates leadership and progress in the area. It is my hope, and one which I am sure that I share with many, that the registering of projects to the CFI becomes routine and happens regularly as more projects meet the requirements laid down in the CFI and overseen by the Clean Energy Regulator.
I believe the CFI will evolve and that more and more projects will be registered more quickly and efficiently as time passes. Registration of any project is not a decision taken lightly but Greenfleet is very keen to demonstrate that biodiverse Australian forests are an important part of a portfolio of actions that tackle climate change. The CFI provides the mechanism by which we can demonstrate that the carbon abatement is real.
We are keen to work with large emitters who have carbon liabilities but accept that the current political debate creates considerable uncertainty in the medium term. Regardless, we will use the CFI as the best and only option for validating and verifying Australian Kyoto abatement. We hope that it is retained for a long period of time to create certainty and efficiency in the market and to garner confidence in robust market mechanisms that are effective in taking action on climate change and that act to protect, restore and enhance our precious Australian landscape.
As to the future, we will continue to garner support for our program from the voluntary market. Greenfleet already works with a number of forward-thinking companies who care about Australia’s environment and the welfare of future generations on the planet, such as Telstra, Europcar, Smart Salary and Kuhmo tyres.
This support has to date allowed us to plant more than eight million trees independent of government funding. Greenfleet and its supporters are committed to reducing the effects of climate change and restoring Australia’s native forests. We remain confident that establishing biodiverse forests, validated and verified under robust regulation is an integral part of Australia’s response to climate change.
Sara Gipton is CEO of Greenfleet.