Plantation Forestry

Closed 10 Jan 2020

Opened 10 Aug 2017

Published Responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

This method benefits plantation forest growers or land owners interested in establishing new plantations or converting existing short-rotation plantations to long-rotation plantations. It can also be used by forest growers who have established a plantation forest under another Emissions Reduction Fund method.

Legal Status

The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative-Plantation Forestry) Methodology Determination 2017 was made on 10 August 2017, and varied on 10 January 2020.

The explanatory statement for the original Determination, as made on 10 August 2017, is provided to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the legislative requirements.

The primary reason for the variation to the method in 2020 was to correct equations to provide an even distribution of crediting over time for areas undertaking the conversion project activity.

How does it work

Projects under this method store carbon by establishing and managing plantation forests. Carbon continues to be stored in the wood products from the harvested plantations.

Project proponents use the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) software to estimate project carbon stocks.

Abatement estimates take into account the fluctuations in carbon stocks associated with harvest of a plantation and new growth after harvesting. There are two ways abatement is calculated:

  • Projects for new plantations are credited up to a limit that represents the average carbon stocks of repeated harvest rotations over the long-term.
  • Projects for converting short-rotation plantations to long-rotation plantations are credited for the average project carbon stocks, less the average carbon stocks for the short rotations.

Estimates must take into account the effects of disturbances such as fires.

Projects are subject to permanence obligations. Project carbon stocks must be maintained for a nominated permanence period of either 100 or 25 years. Projects nominating a 25-year permanence period are subject to a reduction in the credits they receive. The reduction is 20 per cent for long-rotation plantations and 25 per cent for short-rotation projects.

Eligibility and restrictions

A number of requirements need to be met for a project to be eligible under this method.

For example:

  • Projects can only be conducted within regions defined under the Australian Government's National Plantation Inventory.
  • Projects to establish new plantations must be on land where there has been no plantation forest for the previous seven years.
  • Certain types of plantation forest projects likely to occur in the ordinary course of events (African mahogany in the Northern Territory National Plantation Inventory region and Indian sandalwood in any region) are not eligible.
  • Projects must not be an excluded offsets project as defined in sections 3.36 and 3.37 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011. For example, projects in locations where average annual rainfall exceeds 600 millimetres need to meet conditions designed to help manage the effects of commercial tree plantings on water availability.

Projects can meet the conditions if they either:

  • have a suitable water access entitlement
  • are in a region where the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment determines the relevant state or territory government is adequately implementing National Water Initiative commitments to manage water interception by plantations
  • are in a region specified as one in which tree planting is unlikely to have a material adverse impact on water availability. The areas assessed and included in these initial maps are in the five pilot Regional Forestry Hubs created under the Australian Government’s National Forest Industries Plan.
  • are in a region where a water access entitlement cannot be obtained, and they can be demonstrated (supported by advice from a state or territory agency) to not have a material impact on water availability or water access entitlements, or
  • can be shown to help manage dryland salinity

Projects must comply with all environmental and planning regulations, including state or territory regulations relating to water interception.

  • Proponents considering undertaking a new plantation forest or an expansion of an existing plantation forest must submit a plantation notification to the Minister for Agriculture. Projects converting existing short rotation plantations to long-rotation plantations do not need to submit a notification. If the Minister assesses a proposed project as having an undesirable impact on agricultural production in the region, it will be ineligible. For more information see the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

Projects also need to meet the additionality requirements in section 27 of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011. For example, projects must not have already begun to be implemented.

Monitoring, reporting and auditing

Registered projects will be required to monitor:

  • management actions in the project area
  • any natural disturbance that affects the project area
  • forest cover or progress towards achieving forest cover.

Regular reporting (at least once every five years) to the Clean Energy Regulator is required to demonstrate project requirements are being met and report on carbon abatement.

In addition to the reporting and monitoring requirements set out in the method, there are general requirements that apply to all Emissions Reduction Fund projects. These are specified under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011and Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Rule 2015 and Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Amendment Rule (No. 2) 2017. For example, the Rule specifies that projects must report the amount of each part of the calculation used to work out net abatement for the project.

Projects are required to keep records of their compliance with all requirements specified in the method, the Act and the Rule. These records will be used when reporting to the Clean Energy Regulator and are likely to be requested during audits.

Projects must be audited by a registered national greenhouse and energy reporting (NGER) auditor. A list of registered auditors is available on the Clean Energy Regulator website.

Method tools

FullCAM

Participants are required to use the Full Carbon Accounting Model (FullCAM) software to calculate the carbon abatement of their project(s). The most recent public release of FullCAM can be found at the link below:

The FullCAM Guidelines linked below set out the requirements users must follow to calculate a project's carbon abatement with FullCAM:

Development of this method

A draft of the method for plantation forestry was released for public comment in December 2016.

Draft determination and explanatory statement

Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (ERAC) advice

The ERAC's advice to the Minister regarding the method is published here, in accordance with paragraph 106(11)(c) of the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011.

Further information

Legislation

Departmental resources

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Audiences

  • Emissions Reduction Fund
  • Climate Change

Interests

  • Climate Change
  • Emissions Reduction Fund