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Farmers uncertain on carbon storing

Research by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Forestry shows many Australian farmers are interested in planting trees for the purpose of carbon sequestration, but won’t invest in this activity until they are confident a stable market with reasonable return is in place.
Tree planting for carbon sequestration needs to occur on cleared land, and typically requires accessing land currently managed by Australian farmers.
The Federal government’s proposed Carbon Farming Initiative, as well as ongoing promises of a forthcoming government-mandated carbon market, will likely expand the potential market for this activity.
The CRC’s research has examined when and why landholders are interested in planting for carbon sequestration, explored their perceptions of the costs and benefits of doing so, and identified gaps in the information available to farmers.
The research involved surveying landholders in New South Wales, and was undertaken by Dr Lyndall Bull (ANU Research Fellow and CRC Board member), and Dr Jacki Schirmer (ANU Research Fellow and leader of the CRC’s Communities research project).
Many of the landholders surveyed had planted trees on their property in the past to provide shade and shelter for stock, improve aesthetics and rehabilitate land. While only 3.5 per cent of surveyed landholders had planted trees for carbon sequestration, more than 75 per cent are actively considering doing so, or might consider it in the future. However, there are many issues on which landholders would need more certainty before adopting the practice.
“There are concerns about whether planting trees for carbon sequestration will reduce land use flexibility through ‘locking up’ land to store carbon for 100 years, about the amount of time required to plant and manage trees and to a lesser extent about issues such as the amount of water used by the trees,” said Dr Bull.
“The uncertainty of current markets and the risk of governments changing policy in the future were also significant barriers for a lot of people.”
It’s hoped the CRC research will be considered by policy makers and groups working to make tree planting for carbon sequestration a viable and well-adopted activity.
Seminars presenting the findings of the research have been held in Canberra and Hobart, with a further seminar to be held in Melbourne. Additional seminars may be held in Western Australia and South Australia, depending on demand. Full event details and the seminar presentation are available on the website of the CRC for Forestry.
The full results of the study will be published by the CRC for Forestry later this year.
Ends 7 April 2011
The report author, Dr Lyndall Bull, is available for interview on key findings of this research.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Samantha Meyer, Communications Manager, CRC for Forestry
03 6226 7944 or 0438 210 468 or [email protected]
Bronwyn Hill, Communications Assistant, CRC for Forestry
[email protected] 0413 592 638
Public seminar details:
Date: Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Time: 5–6 pm
Venue: Melbourne University, Parkville, Vic. Lower Theatre in building 142 (Land and Food Resources) near gate 13 on Royal Parade.
Dr Lyndall Bull has been employed at the Fenner School of Environment and Society as the Convenor of the National Forestry Masters Program for the past two and a half years, and is a Board member of the CRC for Forestry. Prior to joining the Australian National University, Lyndall worked with the plantation company, Timbercorp, where she was responsible for the research, inventory and mapping requirements of the 100,000 hectare eucalypt estate. She has also worked with the National Association of Forest Industries and URS Forestry. Lyndall’s research interests are in the areas of innovation and product development.

Dr Jacki Schirmer is a Research Fellow at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, and leads the CRC for Forestry’s ‘Communities’ research project. For the past decade she has researched social dimensions of forestry, fishing and agriculture, including the socio-economic impacts of changing land use from traditional agriculture to plantation forestry, community engagement strategies, and farmer adoption of revegetation and commercial tree planting.