The Corangamite CMA has identified and prioritised areas of the region suitable for a variety of carbon sequestration types. Traditionally, revegetation would be the main carbon sequestration option for the region, however, new and alternative options such as blue carbon and soil carbon present additional opportunities for both protecting and enhancing existing natural assets and as additional income, especially for land managers. This section explores the carbon sequestration options available to the region. Priority has been given to options addressing other NRM benefits such as habitat protection and connectivity, water quality and soil stabilisation. Modelling for determining carbon sequestration priorities e.g. enhancement and revegetation, has been done by Wimmera CMA, in partnership with a number of other CMAs, including Corangamite.
Enhancing native vegetation through natural regeneration is a recognised method for promoting carbon sequestration under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
It is often the most efficient and cost effective, especially when compared to standard revegetation practices and other carbon sequestration activities. Natural regeneration can be encouraged through reducing current threatening processes such as over grazing and environmental weeds, and/or increasing processes such as additional plantings and restoring natural fire or flooding regimes.
Many of the region’s Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) respond well to natural regeneration. Examples include most communities in the Otways, floodplain woodlands along many of the region’s waterways and native grasslands on the basalt plains.
Regional priorities for natural regeneration for carbon sequestration purposes will be assessed on a site-by-site basis. Other factors such as the type and/or quality of vegetation community, its conservation status as well as other NRM benefits e.g. river protection, should always be considered when priotising sites for carbon sequestration purposes.
Farm forestry is another form of carbon sequestration activity already being implemented in many parts of the region. In addition, carbon sequestration, farm forestry provides a future source of timber. This places less pressure on existing remnant areas of vegetation on roadsides and private land as firewood sources. For example, indigenous tree species such as Messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua), can be incorporated into farm forestry plantings that have the dual benefits of biodiversity and commercial value, e.g. for sawn timber or firewood. Farm forestry can also act as a buffer to fragmented vegetation and a way to broaden the appeal of biodiverse plantations on private land.
Regional priorities for farm forestry should be assessed on a site-by-site basis, with other NRM benefits used to prioritise potential sites.
Terrestrial carbon sequestration priorities
Revegetation is another recognised method of encouraging carbon sequestration through the Australian Government’s ERF.
Revegetation, through biodiverse plantings, has many other NRM benefits, and is one of the most effective ways to make many of the region’s landscapes more resilient to climate change. Mainly through buffering existing remnants, protecting riparian areas and reducing existing threatening processes such as soil erosion. Revegetation can also increase connectivity i.e. buffers, corridors, stepping stones, between existing areas of fauna habitat, and create refugia. This will be important as the region’s climate changes and some fauna in existing locations need to move to more favourable areas.
Species selection for revegetation programs will reflect what is currently being planted now, i.e. species indigenous to the area. With projected changes to the region’s climate, there is an expectation existing plant species will need to be replaced with species that are more suitable to a warmer, drier climate. Feedback from the native vegetation REP workshop discussed this potential need, however, it was determined that EVCs are quite resilient in their own right, and while some may lose certain species, there is no requirement to replace indigenous species with those that may be deemed more appropriate under a changing climate.
Similar to the carbon sequestration methods already mentioned, regional priorities for revegetation for carbon sequestration purposes should also be assessed on a site-by-site basis, with other NRM benefits being used to help prioritise potential sites. Areas highlighted has high regional priorities include areas of high carbon sequestration potential, combined with other NRM benefits such as buffering and linking fragmented remnant vegetation, and should be used as a guide only. The region has an estimated total of 120,751 hectares, or 9% of the region, which can be categorised as high priority areas of potential revegetation for carbon sequestration and which also address other NRM benefits.
More information on carbon sequestration options using native vegetation can be found on the South West Climate Change Portal at www.swclimatechange.com.au