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Explaining Carbon Sequestration

We once looked at trees and saw only timber. Nowadays we see biodiversity and habitat too. But increasingly, environmentalists, businesses, and land managers alike are looking at trees and seeing a carbon sink —a means of absorbing CO2, the most abundant greenhouse gas, through a process called carbon sequestration. 

Carbon sequestration is the long-term capture and storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a process that happens naturally, but is increasingly encouraged and facilitated to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Carbon is sequestered naturally via many different systems. It is absorbed by: 

  • The biosphere: carbon dioxide absorbed by vegetation via photosynthesis. 
  • The pedosphere: carbon dioxide absorbed and stored in soil. 
  • The hydrosphere: absorption by the ocean, including marine vegetation and phytoplankton. 
  • The lithosphere: assimilation and storage of CO2 into the earth’s minerals (rocks). 

As one of the most significant greenhouse gases because of its abundance and rapid growth in the atmosphere, the abatement and storage of carbon dioxide is of key importance in slowing down the effects of climate change.   

Most would be aware of Australia’s highly political carbon crediting and tax schemes over the last decade, which were designed to slow down and create consequence for large carbon emitters. 

Australia’s national carbon crediting model is administered by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) and involves the exchange of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) for the outcomes of verified carbon abatement projects. ACCUs are funded under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and sold from ACCU-generating projects to business wanting to offset their emissions. The market is largely voluntary, with businesses making commitments based on ESG and ‘net zero’ targets that deliver benefits to the planet and their brand. Though some of Australia’s larger emitters are required to offset emissions through the scheme’s Safeguard Mechanism. 

For land managers, carbon sequestration projects can deliver many benefits — not just in the form of ACCUs, but also on-farm and on-Country benefits that lead directly to a boost in productivity. These include:  

  • Avoided Deforestation: Prevents the release of carbon dioxide by preserving forested areas earmarked for clearing andprotecting them for up to 100 years 
  • Avoided Clearing: A method that sequesters carbon dioxide by breaking with a property’s current or historic clearing regime and providing increased capacity for vegetative carbon absorption.  
  • Human Induced Regeneration: A carbon sequestration method that absorbs and stores carbon dioxide by changing land management practices and allowing native vegetation to regrow. 
  • Soil Carbon Projects: Use sustainable and regenerative agriculture methods to help remediate soil health and build soil carbon. 
  • Savanna Burning Projects: A method that limits carbon dioxide released by unmanaged wildfire through controlled and cooler burns as well as wildfire containment.  
  • Beef Herd Management: A way to sequester carbon dioxide through livestock management and changing animal traffic to minimise soil disturbance.  

These methods, as well as the significant carbon abatement benefits and financial benefits to land managers, also are methods that lead to soil improvement, biodiversity enhancement, increased water health, and lead to improvements in productivity, tilling, and irrigation systems.   

GreenCollar’s project management focusses on this stacking of values, and works with the land manager to maximise both the environmental and business benefits that accrue as a result of carbon farming projects. Coupling specialist data monitoring and reporting with site visits, GreenCollar can assist land managers in unlocking the full potential  their land has to offer. 

 

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