Countryman: Pastoralists petition for carbon farming

By Rueben Hale, The Countryman, 2 March 2017.

A group of WA rangelands pastoralists has signed a petition calling on the future State Government to support the development of a carbon farming industry in WA’s outback.

The petition, signed by 40 people, is being sent to party candidates and MPs in key regional seats, such as the Pilbara, in advance of the election.

Petition organiser Jason Hastie, from Pingandy Station in the Upper Gascoyne, said a recent report outlining the potential of carbon farming in WA found the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative could provide millions of dollars of new income to rangelands pastoralists and restore productivity to long-degraded lands in WA.

Under the initiative, farmers and land managers can earn carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the land.

These credits can then be sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their emissions.

The report, released by the carbon and rangelands policy working group in December, identified carbon farming as being worth almost $200,000 each year to the average pastoral lease in the southern part of WA’s outback.

“The view of many pastoralists is that carbon farming in the outback rangelands has potential to strengthen the regional economy, social fabric and productivity of regional WA,” Mr Hastie said. “It offers pastoralists the opportunity to diversify income streams, survive the boom and bust of droughts and markets, and restore large tracts of degraded land at no cost to government.”

Mr Hastie said WA was already missing out compared with Queensland and NSW.

Liberal candidate for the Pilbara and carbon farming industry advocate Mark Alchin said if elected at the upcoming State election, he would make sure the necessary legislation was carried forward.

Mr Alchin is challenging Nationals leader Brendon Grylls for the seat, which is expected to be a tight contest.

“I would go further than just legislation and also advocate within the government to see large parcels of the rangelands converted to freehold land to encourage private investment in carbon farming and other industries,” he said.

Mr Grylls said the rangelands were an asset of immense economic, social, cultural and environmental value.

“Rangelands reform remains a priority for the Nationals WA ... if stakeholders wish to see this reform progress, they can only trust the Nationals WA to deliver it,” he said.

This story also ran in the North West Telegraph, Pilbara News and Mid West Times.