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Carbon Farming could benefit both Budjiti Community and Country

Published by ABC News on 1 April 2019.

The demand for carbon farming projects is growing in south-west Queensland with one Indigenous group looking to the initiative to regenerate the bush.

The Budjiti Aboriginal Corporation has been working with carbon farming developer Climate Friendly to give consent to property owners in the Paroo Shire Council region looking to start projects.

But the group has also started to look at its own projects in the region.

“We’re looking at buying a property near Thargomindah,” Budjiti elder Phil Eulo said.

“It’s got carbon farming on it and we’d like to keep it growing and expand the mapped-out area and maybe look at putting some cattle on.”

Return of traditional medicines and bush tucker

In 2015, the Budjiti people received native title of the Paroo River region, which spans far west New South Wales and over the border into Queensland.

Making the nearly 12-hour journey from Maitland, NSW, Mr Eulo said investing in carbon farming projects would see the return of traditional bush tucker.

“We’ve lost a lot of our native trees, our bush tucker trees, our medicine bush, our fruit trees,” Mr Eulo said. “They’re all disappearing and they’re only in a few selective areas on our country now. We want to see them all come back across the determination [native title] area.”

Mr Eulo said he was worried about the condition of the region since the introduction of livestock.

“They flog the country with sheep, they flog the country with cattle. What do you expect to see now the country is in the bloody dire straits at the moment?” Mr Eulo said. “What we all need now is rain.”

Second income in drought

The Paroo Shire has been drought-declared for six years and graziers in this region often push over mulga trees native to the area to help feed cattle in dry times.

These trees are now being used for carbon farming in a process known as human-induced regeneration, where blocks of land are left to grow to create living carbon stores.

Mr Eulo believes there is another way to take care of livestock and continue to expand carbon farming projects.

“You could chop branches off it to feed the animals. They used to do it when I was a kid,” he said. “I climbed trees to feed animals in droughts in the 60s. They don’t have to knock trees over.”

“We want to see these trees growing back on our country in all the farms that are in the determination area. We have to work together now. It should have been working together 100 years ago.”

Executive manager for Climate Friendly Josh Harris said western Queensland was a “hot bed of action” for projects.

“In western Queensland it’s roughly about 200 projects but Australia wide it’s 700,” Mr Harris said.

“In terms of financial value there’s been about $500 million in carbon contracts signed and so far there’s been close to $100 million in carbon income that has come into the region.”

“From an environmental perspective there’s been about 10 million carbon credits issued so far. That’s roughly the carbon emissions of half a million people or about 2 million cars off the road.”

Climate policy

Vegetation is measured for carbon content by cutting a tree down, measuring its ‘wet weight’ and then drying the tree to measure its carbon content, Mr Harris said.

“That’s been done over a whole range of species in different soil types with the CSIRO, ANU, other universities and the government,” he said. “And the government has been able to build carbon models based on that data, so those carbon models will provide an average carbon type [and] average carbon levels per species as that species grows.”

Across Australia carbon farming has reduced about 60 million tonnes of carbon emissions, which is close to 10 per cent of the country’s total emissions.

“And a lot of that activity is in western Queensland,” Mr Harris said.

[The featured image is taken from the original ABC News story].