Nature Repair Market great news for farmers and the environment

Passage of new legislation through Federal Parliament this month that will enable farmers (and other businesses) to profit from increasing biodiversity on their land was celebrated by the environmental experts at South West NRM, who were among architects of the law and its regulatory framework.

In 2021 the Federal Government appointed the South West region’s peak environmental organisation, South West NRM, to deliver one of only six pilot projects to be run across Australia that would inform the emerging Nature Repair Market.

In partnership with the then Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment and Australian National University, South West NRM developed a protocol for high biodiversity environmental plantings in the South West and how to value them as part of a Nature Repair Market.

The project extended to South West NRM working with local landholders who wanted to integrate areas of biodiverse revegetation into their operation. South West NRM CEO Sally Wilkinson said her team of ecologists worked with local farmers so they could be financially rewarded as responsible stewards of the land while contributing towards the research base to support development of a Nature Repair Market.

“Working with ANU, we developed program protocols specific to the South West to ensure maximum benefits for the region’s farmers and our environment,” Ms Wilkinson said.

“We worked with successful applicants to design their carbon farming projects to improve biodiversity and address land constraints that were impacting farm productivity, such as salinity and waterlogging.” 

Farmers registered their planting projects through the Emissions Reduction Fund to access Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). These can be sold to the Government or private businesses or be retained by the farmer as a step towards carbon neutrality.

Under the program – called Carbon + Biodiversity, a component of the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package – farmers were provided payments in addition to the ACCUs, to recognise the biodiversity benefits of their emissions reduction projects.

“Once the new Nature Repair Market legislation is operational, we look forward to helping more farmers access these emerging opportunities to diversify their incomes and improve overall farm resilience, while delivering significant environmental benefits at the same time,” Ms Wilkinson said.

The Nature Repair Market legislation establishes a transparent framework to issue Australian landholders with tradeable biodiversity certificates for projects that protect, manage and restore nature.

It will enable the Clean Energy Regulator to issue Australian landholders with tradeable biodiversity certificates for projects that protect, manage, and restore nature. These certificates can then be sold to businesses, organisations, governments, and individuals.

Introduction of the Nature Repair Market follows key findings of the 2021 State of the Environment report which said the state and trend of the Australian environment was poor and deteriorating.