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26 August 2022

Farmers welcome farm biodiversity scheme

Farmers for Climate Action (FCA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of a national scheme paying farmers to improve biodiversity and protect remnant vegetation.

CEO Fiona Davis said a scheme of this kind was one of FCA’s key asks heading into the last election, and noted that farmers and the environment both win from a biodiversity scheme with integrity.

Projects to plant native trees and shrubs will likely receive income for both carbon and biodiversity credits, greatly improving the financial feasibility of these activities.

“Farmers for Climate Action has been calling for a national farm biodiversity scheme and this is great news for farmers, the environment and our climate,” Dr Davis said.

“Payments for biodiversity and carbon can provide farmers with vital income during drought, which can help them continue to employ workers during tough times – and these projects absorb carbon and provide habitat for native wildlife.

“Paying farmers for the biodiversity in their remnant forest has the potential to greatly reduce Australia’s emissions by reducing land clearing. If a farmer is making money from the remnant forest on their land they will be less likely to clear it. This approach uses a carrot, not a stick, and will protect vital habitat for our birds, reptiles and animals.

“Paying farmers for planting native vegetation to boost biodiversity and absorb carbon also increases farm productivity, because animals grow more when they have shelter and shade, and because the native trees can create income for farmers on parts of their farm which were less profitable such as hillsides and creek banks.

“The foundation of any biodiversity market or scheme is integrity. We note current biodiversity pilots have had good integrity brought by world renowned ecologists and carbon experts at Australian National University, and a national scheme will need to have similar integrity.”

Dr Davis noted the announcement had bipartisan support, with Nationals Leader David Littleproud saying the scheme should be “implemented as soon as possible”. The previous government had commissioned a biodiversity market platform and begun two pilot schemes paying farmers for biodiversity: one paying for new native plantings and another for enhancing remnant vegetation.

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