Three million ha of ‘highly sought after’ WA Crown land to be released for carbon farming

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Three million hectares of Crown Land is set to be released for carbon farming projects.
Camera IconThree million hectares of Crown Land is set to be released for carbon farming projects. Credit: Carwyn Monck/Kalgoorlie Miner/RegionalHUB

Swathes of “highly sought after” land are set to be released for carbon farming projects across WA as the market booms and the State works to achieve ambitious climate targets.

The State Government will release more than three million hectares of unallocated Crown land currently managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, with proposals for “high-level” projects to be accepted from 2022.

It is set to provide opportunities for the private sector to partner with the State Government and traditional owners to create large-scale carbon farming projects across the State.

It comes as the State introduces a new flexible form of land tenure known as a ‘diversification lease’, which allows non-exclusive possession to enable multiple uses of land.

WA Lands Minister Tony Buti said the initiative — as well as other sustainable initiatives such as renewable energy on Crown Land — would be made possible through upcoming changes to the Land Administration Act.

“Our vast expanses of remote Crown Land represent one of the biggest and most underutilised levers available to meet our net zero target,” he said.

“As the world transitions to a green economy, a key part of our work is to ensure this land can be diversified and harnessed to address current and future challenges.”

The initiative, announced on Wednesday December 15, builds on the Carbon for Conservation project and will engage traditional owners in the consultation and engagement process.

WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson said projects would only go ahead with the consent of traditional owners, who would be “essential” to the process.

Projects are set to deliver job opportunities in regional and remote areas and enhance conservation values through increased management of feral animals, weeds and fire.

WA Environment and Climate Action Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the State was “blessed” with an abundance of land which could be used for carbon farming projects.

“This initiative will encourage and support on-ground solutions that contribute to offsetting carbon emissions through new investment in conservation and land management actions, particularly in our rangelands,” she said.

“It will help our State achieve net zero emissions by 2050. While emissions reduction is our priority, we recognise the need for offsets in hard-to-abate industries.”

Mr Dawson called it a “fantastic initiative” that would promote new job opportunities for traditional owners on country as well as address climate change.

“The McGowan Government is absolutely committed to supporting Aboriginal employment and business aspirations and will continue to find innovative ways to boost participation and success in employment and business.”

Exploration for minerals and petroleum is still able to occur over the proposed three million hectares, with existing and pending mining leases and petroleum production licences — and associated tenure — excluded from the carbon farming areas.

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