Workshop Manual: The business case for carbon farming: improving your farm’s sustainability (January 2021)

Reforestation and afforestation

Appendix A - Summaries of selected emissions avoidance and sequestration methodologies

The business case for carbon farming: improving your farm’s sustainability

Explore the full Workshop Manual: The business case for carbon farming: improving your farm’s sustainability (January 2021)

 
TYPE: Sequestration methodology 
NOTE: This method has gone through three updates (V1.0, V1.1 and V1.2 (all closed) and the most recent update is Reforestation and afforestation V2.0

 

Summary

The methodology applies to projects that establish a permanent forest planting on land that had been used for cropping or grazing for at least five years prior to the commencement of the project. Sequestration through an increase in biomass is measured using a detailed and complex procedure.
The requirement that the land be previously used for cropping and grazing ensures the project is additional—that the forest did not exist without the incentives provided by the CFI. Leakage is avoided through land clearing laws that ensure forested land is not removed at other locations.


Methodology details

Location and timing
The project must be located in Australia, including external territories. The project is described as commenced at the earliest date for which planting is documented to have occurred—this cannot be earlier than 1 July 2010.
Emissions covered by the methodology
This methodology covers emissions and carbon stocks from:
  • fuel use due to project forest establishment and management;
  • fires in the project area, excluding emissions from a prescribed burn;
  • above and below ground biomass in live project trees;
  • above ground biomass in dead standing project trees (optional); and
  • biomass in litter and fallen dead wood (optional).
Requirements
Land
for at least five years prior to the start of the project, the land on which the project is conducted must have been used for grazing, cropping, or fallow between grazing and cropping activities;
the project area boundaries must be clearly identified using spatial coordinates; and the project area may be divided into stratum that identify areas with different characteristics.
Trees
  • the trees planted will have the potential to attain a height of two metres or more, and crown cover of at least twenty per cent of the total area in which the trees are located;
  • the plantings must be permanent and be planted to achieve forest cover; and
  • the trees may be of one or more species.
Disturbances
In the event of a disturbance to the growth of the trees (such as through fire, flood, drought or pests) the area affected must be identified within six months and the affected area separated from the main area of the planting for the purposes of calculating and reporting carbon stocks. In the case of a fire disturbance, the full project area must be assessed and an estimate of the emissions from the fire calculated. The carbon stocks for the affected area are assumed to be zero.
Tree management
No non-project trees may be removed from the project area unless:
  • they are prescribed weeds;
  • the removal of the tree is required or authorised by law; and
  • the trees are non-native, less than two metres high and have crown cover of less than five per cent of the area to be planted and are removed between the time of commencement and six months after planting.
A project tree may only be removed if it is for:
  • biomass sampling;
  • removing debris for fire management;
  • the removal of firewood, fruit, nuts, seeds or material used for fencing or as craft materials if not removed for sale;
  • traditional indigenous practices or in accordance with native title rights; and
  • thinning for ecological purposes.
One preparation burn is allowed prior to planting. Fertiliser may be applied no more than four times in a 100-year period.
Estimating abatement
The baseline for the project is assumed to be zero. Net abatement is calculated by subtracting project emissions from project removals. Project emissions are emissions from fuel use and fires in the project area. To determine emissions from fuel use the quantity of each fuel used for each stratum, the energy content of each fuel type and the emissions factor for each fuel type are recorded.
Emissions from fire are estimated by comparing the mean plot carbon stocks of the relevant area before and after the fire event and multiplying by the land area affected by the fire. The amount of methane and nitrous oxide emitted from the fire is also estimated based on the amount of carbon emitted through the fire. Determining the project removals (sequestration of carbon in tree biomass) is a complex procedure. The rules governing the processes and calculations are all laid out in the methodology, and briefly summarised as follows: 
  • project removals are measured by conducting either a full inventory or a permanent sample plots (PSP) assessment, and must be measured less than six months prior to the submission of the offsets report. The PSP method can only be used after a full inventory has been conducted;
  • full inventories are to be conducted at least every five years through the establishment and management phases (the forest growth phases);
  • for each of the processes there are extensive requirements around sampling of trees, selecting and managing sample plots and mapping of the area and plots;
  • when conducting a full inventory all sample plots must be visited. Non-project trees within the plot are not assessed, but for each project tree in the plot the following information is collected:
    • tree status;
    • species; and
    • predictor measures (measures used to estimate biomass).
  • assessing the carbon stocks contained in litter and fallen dead wood is optional and chosen by the project proponent;
  • as well as the net abatement amount, statistical uncertainty of the abatement amount must also be calculated at the ninety per cent confidence interval;
  • the carbon stock change for a project is the sum of the carbon stock change for each of the stratum in the project, which in turn is determined by the carbon stocks of sample areas and the area of the stratum. The carbon stocks in a sample area are based on the biomass (in dry matter terms, determined through the allometric functions) of trees in the plot, the area of the plot and the carbon fraction of biomass in the trees; and
  • a slightly different, but more complex methodology is used for estimates using the PSP approach, which is based on changes in carbon stocks of the sample areas and the carbon stocks in the previous full inventory.
Allometric functions:
  • allometric functions are used to estimate the biomass of a tree based on predictor measures. A separate allometric function is estimated for each tree species, status, data range and geographic area;
  • the functions are developed using regression analyses to relate predictor measures to biomass estimates. Trees are randomly selected from sample areas to measure the biomass. The process for this selection is outlined in the methodology;
  • for each allometric function, a report must be compiled that explains the process undertaken for developing the function, including information about each tree sampled;
  • the function is relevant for the specific stratum, unless further analysis is conducted to allow it to apply to a region;
  • sampling of a tree in the process of developing the allometric functions requires the removal of the tree, separation into biomass components (stem, crown and dead material attached to the tree), recording of the wet weight of each of the components, and oven-drying the sample to determine the dry weight;
  • the below ground biomass can be assessed either using a ratio to the above ground biomass, or through a destructive method (removal of the roots, cleaning of soil and contaminants, removal of roots less than two millimetres in diameter, separating the different root types and recording the wet and dry weight);
  • similar processes are undertaken for trees that are dead but standing, and trees that are affected by fire—either alive or dead. Only the stem, not the branches, crown or below ground biomass, are included in biomass estimates for dead and fire affected trees;
  • the allometric functions must be tested and validated using measurements and statistical analysis; and
  • if a relevant allometric function is not available for a particular the biomass of that tree is recorded as zero.
Reporting and monitoring
The project must be monitored through on-ground inspections and surveys as well as remote monitoring such as aerial or satellite imagery. Less monitoring is required in the maintenance period. If the required monitoring is not carried out then the carbon stocks for the area are taken to be zero. Any growth disturbance events must be monitored and recorded. Records must be kept of all the measurements and calculations about the stratum, trees, carbon stocks, allometric functions, sampling activities, quality assurance measures and fuel use.
The first offsets report must include information about:
  • land titles for the land on which the project is located;
  • geospatial data files detailing the boundary areas;
  • maps of the project area;
  • details of each of the stratum - boundaries, maps, planting methods and dates, rationale for stratification;
  • land use and forest cover history for at least five years before commencement; and
  • documented procedures for quality assurance and control measures.
All offsets reports must also contain information about:
  • the strata - descriptions and status, carbon stocks (including details for its estimation process);
  • net greenhouse gas abatement;
  • change in carbon stocks for the project for the reporting period and the standard error (including details for each of the strata and sample plot areas);
  • project emissions for the reporting period and the standard error (fuel use and emissions from fires);
  • allometric functions (development and application);
  • sampling process;
  • growth disturbance events (dates, strata, nature and severity, monitoring, actions taken); and
  • quality control measures.

 

Explore the full Workshop Manual: The business case for carbon farming: improving your farm’s sustainability (January 2021)

Read the report

RESEARCH REPORTS

1. Introduction: background to the business case

This chapter lays out the basic background and groundwork of the manual

RESEARCH REPORTS

1.1 Overview

Introduction: background to the business case

RESEARCH REPORTS

1.2 Being clear about the reasons for participating

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.3 Key steps in a decision process

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.4 Working through the business case for carbon farming

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.5 Factors determining project economics

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.6 Elements of the business case

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.7 Building an economic case

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.8 Important features of the business case

Introduction: background to the business case

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1.9 The plan of this manual

Introduction: background to the business case

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2. How carbon is farmed under the ERF

This chapter considers in detail the activities that constitute carbon farming

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2.1 The scope of carbon farming under the ERF

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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2.2 Emissions avoidance activities

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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2.3 Sequestration activities

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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2.4 The negative list

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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2.5 Carbon farming under the Emissions Reduction Fund

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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2.6 Who's who in the CFI and the ERF

How carbon is farmed under the ERF

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3. The policy context and the price of ACCUs

This chapter takes a broad look at the policy context for carbon farming

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3.1 The policy context

The policy context and the price of ACCUs

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3.2 A documented climate challenge…

The policy context and the price of ACCUs

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3.3 … with numerous policy responses

The policy context and the price of ACCUs

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