This article deals exclusively with the Human-induced Regeneration of a Permanent Even-aged Native Forest Method 1.1 (HIR method). Pursuant to this methodology, regrowth describes the growth of trees and other plants from existing natural seed beds, rootstocks or lignotubers on land on which the growth has been suppressed.
This method is a sequestration method, meaning that registered projects generate carbon credits by storing greenhouse gases in the regrowth vegetation. The aim of this methodology is to establish native forests. There are 2 other approved regrowth methodologies, however they require clearing events to have occurred on the land. The HIR method does not necessarily require a clearing event to have occurred to establish eligibility.
So do you have land that maybe eligible for a project under the HIR method?
Under the HIR method the key eligibility requirement is that the land must have been subject to suppression activity such that native vegetation and native regrowth has not achieved forest cover at any time for at least 10 years. This means that the land must have been grazed or cropped over the 10 year period and these activities have prevented the native vegetation from growing to form forest cover.
The definition of ‘forest cover’ is important. Forest cover is defined as an area of at least 0.2 ha with trees measuring at least 2 metres in height and providing crown cover over at least 20% of the land.
If there is not forest cover on the land, due to the suppression of regrowth by grazing or cropping, then there maybe ‘forest potential’. So if you have land which has forest potential, i.e. the ability for a forest to grow from the existing seed bank, rootstocks and lignotubers, and has been that way for at least the last 10 years, then this maybe eligible for a carbon farming project under the HIR method.
If you do have an eligible land area for this method, in order to implement a project a key requirement is that you do something that helps the regrowth to form forest cover.
You may undertake one or more of the following land management activities:
- Keep livestock out of the project area
- Manage the timing and extent of grazing
- Manage feral animals through for example exclusion fencing
- Manage non-native plants
- Cease mechanical or chemical suppression activities.
You can have a 25 year project or 100 year project. This is known as the ‘permanence obligation’ under which you are required to protect the carbon sequestered in the vegetation for the chosen period. If you choose 25 years, you have to comply with the method for the entire 25 year period, after which the land is no longer subject to the method, and you can manage it how you want to within the prevailing laws.
If you choose 100 years, you need to protect the stored carbon for the 100 year period.
During the nominated term of the project, you are expected to protect the carbon stores from disturbance events that damages trees or slows their growth, including fire, pest, disease and storm events. Should a disturbance event impact on the Carbon area, you will be required to reestablish the carbon stores to the pre disturbance event levels before further ACCUs will be generated. Alternatively, you may be required to repay any ACCU’s that you have received.
If you do choose the 25 year permanence obligation period, then the ACCUs that are generated by the project are discounted by 20%, and so your income is 20% less, compared to maintaining the project for the full 100 year period. Additionally, under either permanence period, a ‘risk of reversal’ buffer of 5% of the ACCUs generated by the project are taken by the Government as insurance against loss of abatement from events such as bushfires.