Native vegetation comprises plants that are indigenous to Victoria, including trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. Native vegetation provides habitat for wildlife and delivers a range of ecosystem services that make land more productive and contribute to human wellbeing. There are generally two types of activities that take place to directly improve the extent and resilience of native vegetation. These include the planting or seeding of native plants to re-establish native vegetation where is does not currently occur or where it is degraded and the management of native vegetation in a manner that allows it to grow and regenerate naturally. All vegetation can provide two direct climate change outcomes by:
On ground native vegetation works that are landscape scale, cross tenure and use multiple actions provide a better long term outcome. The CRP* acknowledges and supports this approach. Native vegetation can capture carbon in two ways:
During the consultation for the CRP* some of the challenges and opportunities identified relating to using vegetation for biosequestration included:
With uncertainty about the operation of and commitment to carbon markets, it is challenging to understand and compare the commercial benefits of investments in revegetation for carbon in our region compared to other agricultural ventures. Past research has indicated that there is little profitability potential from carbon forests in the Murray Darling Basin under a range of scenarios. This may be the case in most of the Wimmera, although some areas in the south and south-west of the region, with higher rainfall, may have potential. These geographical areas need to be carefully managed to ensure that other values are not impacted such as ground water aquifers and surface water resources.
Recent work, conducted by Greening Australia and Alcoa, consisted of direct measurements in the field to compare actual carbon capture rates with modelling estimates generated from the Australian Government’s Reforestation Modelling Tool (RMT). In some cases, in the Wimmera, the field measurements are providing significantly greater carbon volumes than the RMT, particularly in the south. In the north of the region, they are comparable. This data provides a useful indicator that there may be high yielding locations in the region and that further peer review and research should be conducted to provide more comprehensive information.
Priority actions include:
*CRP refers to the Wimmera CMA's Carbon Ready Plan (http://www.wcma.vic.gov.au/docs/default-source/corporatedocs/Carbon-Ready-Plan/wimmera-carbon-ready-plan.pdf)