Carbon Farming Initiative
The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is a carbon offsets scheme that allows land managers to voluntarily earn carbon credits by changing land use or management practices to store carbon or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the land use/management change practices supported under the CFI is the establishment of permanent tree plantings. The CFI excludes activities if there is a risk of the activity having a significant impact on water availability, biodiversity conservation, employment, the local community or access for agricultural production.
Permanent tree plantings have the potential to impact on water availability by intercepting surface or groundwater, especially in moderate to high rainfall areas. As a result, tree planting projects are generally excluded from the CFI in areas that receive greater than 600mm average annual rainfall, with specific exemptions for environmental plantings and the mitigation of dryland salinity. A further exemption is where there are adequate water management arrangements to address interception (see Regulation 3.37(4) below).
Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011
Regulation 3.37 Excluded offsets projects — specified tree planting
(4) Specified tree planting is not an excluded offsets project if the project area is in a region in relation to which the National Water Commission has determined that the commitments by the relevant state or territory government under the National Water Initiative to manage water interception by plantations have been adequately implemented.
For the purposes of the CFI, adequate management arrangements refers to the relevant State or Territory government having adequately implemented the commitments under the National Water Initiative (NWI) to manage water interception by plantations, or where the project proponent holds an offsetting water entitlement.
National Water Commission's role
The NWI prescribes measures to manage the impact of interception as a result of land use change such as plantation establishment, to protect the integrity of the water access entitlements system and deliver on environmental objectives (Clauses 55–57).
The Commission’s role is to assess the interception management arrangements for all areas in the greater than 600mm average annual rainfall zone (CFI eligible planting zone) to determine if they are consistent with the NWI and therefore considered to be adequate.
The Commission has developed the CFI Assessment Framework (PDF 502 KB) (DOCX 819 KB) to support our CFI assessment role. This has been used to assess all the water plan areas in the CFI eligible planting zone.
This assessment found there are currently no water planning areas with adequate plantation interception management arrangements (as at 31 January 2013).
The Commission will review the interception management arrangements for water plan areas in the CFI eligible planting zone on an annual basis. The outcome of each review will be provided on this website.
Applicants in areas with inadequate plantation interception management arrangements may still be eligible for the CFI and should refer to the eligibility criteria on the CER website.