New Ground-breaking Reef Credit Method for Grazing Land Management open for consultation
A new Grazing Land Management (GLM) Method that measures and values the reduction in sediment losses resulting from improved grazing land management has been published for public consultation under the Reef Credit Scheme. The proposed new Method will generate revenue for graziers that make changes to land management which result in reduced flow of fine sediment through to the Great Barrier Reef. Projects on any grazing land within the Great Barrier Reef catchments could be eligible to benefit. Here’s what you need to know about the Method and the opportunity.
What is a Reef Credit Method?
Methods are a fundamental element of all environmental markets. They prescribe the techniques used to measure and quantify outcomes from land management practices. They are a foundational tool for environmental markets like the Reef Credit Scheme, which aims to improve water quality at the Great Barrier Reef and are only approved after a detailed independent consultation and scientific peer review process. This ensures integrity of all credits produced under the Method.
How has it been developed?
A unique and multiskilled partnership between GreenCollar, Verterra Ecological Engineering and AgriProve has brought together innovation, knowledge, and science, with experience in grazing land management, soil health, water quality and environmental markets to develop the GLM Method. By working together to create the Method, the partners hope to deliver future opportunities for more land managers within the Reef catchments to undertake projects and generate revenue from Reef Credits. Importantly, the new GLM Reef Credit Method has been developed to complement and work side by side with soil carbon crediting by improving soil carbon stores, as well as boosting grazing productivity from whole of property management planning.
How can the GLM Method boost productivity?
Improved grazing land management offers multiple productivity, environmental, and agribusiness benefits, which is why this approach is promoted widely across the grazing industry. The new Method seeks to recognise the very real and important benefits improved grazing land management practice delivers for the health of the Reef and presents significant potential for land managers to boost revenue. By bringing together the complementary goals of improved pasture and soil health for graziers, and improved water quality for the Reef, the GLM Method aims to incentivise and help graziers achieve a high level of ground cover before high intensity rainfall periods to reduce sediment run-off onto the Reef.
How does the GLM Method work?
The proposed Method accounts for reductions in fine sediment losses that are achieved through improved grazing land management. Put simply, it uses historic measurements of sediment losses and tracks how changes in land management reduce the flow of sediment into waterways. After a series of accounting safeguards, independent audits and detailed reporting has been applied and verified, successful projects will be issued with Reef Credits for achieved reductions. Each Reef Credit is the equivalent of 538kgs of fine sediment prevented from flowing onto the Reef and, just like carbon credits, can be sold or traded to organisations that wish to support improvements in water quality.
What changes to land management need to occur?
The Method proposes that land managers develop a Grazing Land Management Plan which outlines their approach to improving grazing practice and soil health to increase ground cover, and ultimately reduce sediment run-off. Actions may include matching stocking rates to forage budgets and incorporating periods of rest. Infrastructure such as fencing and waterpoints may be incorporated, and up-to-date grazing charts must be provided to demonstrate that grazing practices align with increased ground cover and reduced sediment flow.
How are outcomes calculated?
The GLM Method calculates the difference between historic and present-day sediment losses after land management changes have been implemented. Reporting periods are proposed to last between 12 months and five years, with changes in ground cover monitored monthly using remote sensing technology.
What happens next?
EcoMarkets Australia, the independent administrator of the Reef Credit scheme, is managing the independent consultation and peer review process – a fundamental element in developing and approving new Reef Credit Methods.
EcoMarkets Australia is accepting submissions throughout the public consultation period, which is due to end on 5th October 2023, after which the Method will be subject to independent scientific peer review.
Following the consultation and peer review process EcoMarkets Australia will work with the Method authors to address feedback before the Method is formally approved and adopted under the Reef Credit Standard. Once passed, the Grazing Land Management Method will join the four existing pathways for land managers to get involved in the scheme which include:
- Managed Fertiliser Application
- Reduction in Sediment Run-off through Gully Rehabilitation
- Reduction of nutrient through Waste-Water Treatment
- Reduction in Nutrient Run-off through Constructed Wetlands (currently being finalised)
Find out more about the GLM Method and consultation process here
Find out how to get involved in Reef Credits here