A Quandary – Nit-pick or constructive critique of CFI ERF

The quandary for most of us when we express our thoughts is we can be regarded as excessive or obsessive for seeking out an agenda – the agenda to change that might be procedurally correct, but fails to address the main issue. For instance the Emissions Reduction Fund – Irrigated Cotton draft determination and associated documents (the consultation process closed 12 December 2014). The main issue, as with other Carbon Farming Initiative methods, is that it is harder for leading growers to be rewarded, as there is no recognition of past improvements.

In the main we found the draft cotton determination, draft cotton explanatory statement and the draft cotton equations, as is, to be sound. It has its process thought through well enough and while we could say some of the flow could be improved any further submission could appear to be nit-picking as opposed to constructive criticism.

Was there room for constructive critique? Yes, but these are areas we might like to adjust the eligibility criteria. Also a little tweaking of what appears too broad in the descriptions. They are areas that could be argued as wrong, but they really are areas for the regulations or legislation to be adjusted. When you access the process of a determination your role amounts to comment on the process that is laid out in the draft determination. It is not the appropriate place to express frustration with the rules. Expressing your frustration is really the domain of the politics.

Being we mentioned the ERF – Irrigated Cotton draft determination, we should let you know what is it about. The first thing is it is the opportunity for growers to obtain certificates called the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) under the Act 2011 called the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). The reference to the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is part of the CFI Amendment Bill 2014. The fund is designed to help reduce Australia’s emissions by providing and incentive for business, landowners, state and local governments, community organization and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies which reduce emissions. The ERF does include incentives for business activities and farming practices. To find more go to: http://www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au .

A bit more about our thoughts on the determination and consultation on the Draft Energy Reduction Fund: Irrigated cotton.

  • The ‘system’ is for irrigated cotton growing mainly in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.
  • The incentive is to encourage Nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency and efficiency is a measure of the ratio of lint yield to nitrogen applied via synthetic fertiliser (kg lint yield per kg N).
  • An increase in nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency is equivalent to a decrease in emissions intensity from synthetic fertiliser use in irrigated cotton (t CO2-e per kg lint yield).
  • Because nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency is calculated using both nitrogen fertiliser use and yield, credits for emissions reductions can be generated by reducing fertiliser use while maintaining or increasing yield, or by increasing yield without a corresponding increase in fertiliser use. This approach also ensures that credits for emissions reductions cannot be generated through a contraction of yield without a reduction in fertiliser use.
  • The draft Determination therefore enables irrigated cotton growers to adjust nitrogen fertiliser rate according to paddock yield potential in the project area, provided that nitrogen fertiliser use efficiency increases.
  • There is support for a broad range of activities to improve the efficiency (reduce the emissions intensity) of fertiliser use in irrigated cotton, including activities to improve lint yield without a corresponding increase in nitrogen fertiliser application rate, and activities to modify the rate, timing, method and efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser application.
  • Proponents have the flexibility to select management actions that suit their individual circumstances.
  • In this draft, cotton is the only crop in the production system eligible for generating credits for a reduction in emissions from synthetic fertiliser use.
  • Emissions from other crops grown in rotation with cotton, with the exception of green manure, are excluded from this draft Determination.

What is Synthetic fertiliser?

Inorganic are sometimes called synthetic fertilizers since various chemical treatments are required for their manufacture.

Synthetic fertilisers do not include solid or liquid organic products created using waste products of other industries that do not meet these labelling and minimum nitrogen content standards. For example, synthetic fertilisers do not include manures, such as poultry litter or beef feedlot manure, or mulches and composts, such as composted ginning trash.

What is a Green Manure?

A green manure is a legume that is planted in a paddock to improve the soil for a subsequent cotton crop. A green manure crop is not harvested and the above ground growth is returned to the soil. Examples of green manure are vetch, faba beans, chickpeas and annual clovers. Non-legume crops which require nitrogen fertiliser are not included in the definition of green manure

What is Organic fertiliser?

Organic fertilizers are usually (recycled) plant- or animal-derived matter. The main “organic fertilizers” are, in ranked order, peat, animal wastes, plant wastes from agriculture, and sewage sludge.

If you picked up on peat as a organic fertilizer and the reference that it has no nutritional value to the plants, but improves the soil by aeration and absorbing water. You might ask why is biochar not a fertilizer?

Bio char

It gets down to two issues:

  1. Bio char is described as a sequester of carbon and as such binds carbon to its properties.
  2. So broad is the definition that it is seen to be the product of ‘burning’.

The later point is where it gets interesting and frustrating. This is because the technology for fine chars is thermochemical decomposition of organic material at elevated temperatures in the absence of oxygen. In another speak, Bio char is created by pyrolysis of biomass.

We do not argue that is a fertilizer. What we argue is it is an agent to improve the efficiency of fertilizer use.

Another potential for confusion is linking soil carbon to bio char. Soil carbon is a condition and bio char is a conditioner. If you think one is the constant and the other the agent for change it makes sense does it not?

That leaves the issue of if it is helpful why is it excluded from the incentives?

Maybe the question is better put this way: Plants don’t need carbon, soils do. Biochar is but a hazardous waste from pyrolysis, looking for a below-the-radar application. Do we have that application? But that is for another discussion and a case study!

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White Paper to Draft Legislation – ERF

In case you have not heard: The Clean Energy Regulator survives – it was an error the government has corrected on 7 May 2014. What was intended was to say the Clean Energy Fund is gone. Thank you Greg Hunt for your courage in having that clarified.

It is also hoped you heard late Friday 9th May 2014 the Federal Government released its exposure draft legislation for the Emissions Reduction Fund. They want you to be quick in responding -Two weeks have been given for the review, with submissions due EST 12 noon, Friday 23 May 2014.

The key matter is the draft legislation rebadges the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act. And:

  • A broader range of activities can create “carbon abatement” and include avoidance activities
  • A broader definition of additionality is given
  • A broadening of the authority of the Clean Energy Regulator
  • Establishing the Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee
  • Establishing that a yet to be (re)named CFI audit legislation will carry through the audit and assurance through the existing CFI audit legislation.

Why hoped you heard – well we did not want you going to sleep on us because we are boring!

Those that see opportunity are, for instance:

Currently celebrating their 30th year – Energetics consult and offer fee for service activities, and they say:

  • Immediately assess the abatement opportunities you have to create emission reductions to sell into the ERF
  • Understand your risk profile for future capital investments – has this shifted?
  • Assume you need a shadow carbon price
  • Comment on the draft legislation.

Of course the issue for their advise is for you to work out – www.energetics.com.au.

Those that see tragedy are, for instance:

The Climate Spectator www.businessspectator.com.au say,

“Half-baked outline

The half-baked nature of this scheme is revealed on the very first page of descriptive text within the Explanatory Memorandum, where it states:

The Emissions Reduction Fund … will allow businesses, local governments, community organisations and individuals to undertake approved emissions reduction projects and to seek funding from the government for those projects through a reverse auction or other purchasing process.

Government ignores its own red tape cutting advice

I was shocked to find no regulatory impact statement accompanying the ERF legislation, comparing this scheme against alternatives and why it represented a superior cost-benefit case.

Amidst a bonfire of red tape, the government had assured us that they were going to force public servants to see regulation in a ‘new light’ by following a seven-step guide to evaluating new regulations.”

Then finish off saying “I wonder when we’ll see the detailed cost-benefit analysis for the ERF relative to other regulatory alternatives, such as a simple price on carbon emissions.”

For CO2Land org the ‘scary spice’ is the mechanisms can change at any time at the whim of government – regardless of the pain you the business offered or suffered. Again the need for consistent policy is far greater than the words spoken to date. We also tend to agree with one aspect of Energetics spiel – prepare your alternatives. Just in case. And, you don’t have long to comment.

 

 

CFI – a XANADU

If you follow that Shangdu as the summer capital of Kublai Khan’s empire, then you would be forgiven for thinking the CFI is our XANADU and an enigmatic bright feature on the surface. Thereby, we have a problem because it is being profiled as exactly that and actively marketed by government as a series of experiments to showcase. Practitioners are asking: What about us in the ‘real’ world, can we believe something that looks good on the surface is enough? Some say yes, many no.

This conversation started because projects are to be funded that address recognised program gaps of the Carbon Farming Futures activities. This round: The Extension and Outreach Phase two submissions were due Wednesday June 12 5pm. Information is be found on Extension and Outreach daff.gov.au.

Some disquiet continues and numerous amounts of feedback do focus on the issue of the bankable when needing to finance, and other is the number of reference groups that were set up to work through the matters and the concern some of the critical consultation groups are difficult to contact or not able to be mobilized. A prime example being: The Biochar Reference Group. After some searching key people advocating the approach found part of the problem was people moving on to further their personal interests. The difficulty is that the group has funding to develop the soil carbon methodology necessary to be approved by the DOIC to produce ACCU’s (carbon credit units), and although soil carbon methodologies now has an active ‘reference group’ to attempt to push it along, the two subgroups (Mixed farming, and Rangelands) do not, or have not formally communicated what each are up to in their work levels. Compounding this the CFI is looking less of a ‘farming’ initiative in terms of reward systems, and as of the time of writing the government has not produced an example of a good news story on a true ‘farming’ credit. It is difficult to sell virtues without success stories and Gant chart the project support from the farming community without it.

A closer look at the cost of participating is also most interesting, and it is easy to see another genuine hurdle is related to the methodologies development. There is considerable variation in calculating the cost of participating, and some use this as an excuse that farmers are simply not ready to seek approval of their methods, some say it is simply too expensive to get approval. Some even say there is a genuine disinterest for government to get on with ‘innovation’ attempts.

In terms of cost we need to consider that published 8 April 2013 by Co2Land.org: ” It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program”.  Then Country Carbon ( www.CountryCarbon.com.au ) said the numbers posted by CO2land of transaction cost of $70k for ACCUs are ridiculous. They made no attempt to say what is a typical transaction cost other than a comment, and the spokesperson (identified as NC) said “I have no idea where they sourced those”. Curiously NC goes on to say: “The Clean Energy Regulator register shows only a few projects from farmers and only 1 I believe has done a transaction. 
I doubt very much that every methodology needs $1 million for development as well. Too many variables to generalize”.

Co2Land org agrees that too many variables are involved, and then notes two other people advocating for the CFI saying: “None of the methodologies applicable to general farming, that we have examined so far, appear to have net positive financial benefits. Some can lead to substantial unknown liabilities in the future or limit land use in overly prescriptive ways. 

If I am wrong in this please correct me, and show me where it does work and I will be happy to spread the good news”. 

And, “I am a farmer (even if less active than I would like) and all the ones I know are not only not ready to adopt but are only following the program with peripheral interest until such times that they are satisfied something of genuine benefit to their own operation has become apparent. Many I have talked to see it as another under handed greenie grab for the land, some of the prescriptions on approved methodologies certainly seem lifted from this camp. 

Methodology development using all our substantial ‘in house’ skills and resources we estimate to still cost in excess of $100,000 with no guarantee of success “(source identified as PK). Then source LK – not related, said “Many unresolved issues remain, however moving ahead is better than waiting for the ‘perfect’ answer in my view. Just wish for political consistency at this end – the fact that State Coalitions have stripped climate change policies bare is of most concern to me.”

In all this there does seem to be agreement that for farmers, environmental planting does not pay a sufficient return to justify the investment on carbon alone. NC also said “It is also considered that the RMT tool (modeling tool) is deliberately using carbon sequestration estimates well below average because no direct sampling is required for audit”. Possibly this is an oversight, maybe not? In this approach they have taken an ultra conservative approach and the indications are these carbon estimates are so low it is not economical to do it – participate in the initiative that is!  So it remains only one of those methodologies remain with few takers. Even the CSIRO was showing how low these estimates are for the RMT. Reported is the government has taken a decision to use the lowest rates possible for landholders carbon sequestration from tree planting. A good source of this view is https://twitter.com/CountryCarbon/status/332655918254792706/photo/1 

They go on to say: ”In simple language the govt will only recognize extremely low carbon sequestration rates regardless of what happens on the land. It is not even the mid-point average. So that farmers would earn very few carbon offsets. Therefore they say, why bother? 

Most of the extension and outreach to date talks about tree planting or piggeries. (Piggeries are a different question). Most projects approved are all about landfill projects and they are town councils.” They also say: “It actually has less to do with government cut backs or Coalition vs Labor politics and more to do with implementation”. More than one providing input say it may be just a simple matter as readjusting the RMT tool.

CO2Land org intends to continue this thread of knowledge and asks: Unless you be fortunate enough to have a government program that is more generous behind you. 
Should we lobby government harder to be more encouraging for innovation in CFI?

Notwithstanding, CO2Land org wish everyone the best with their endeavours in the initiative. Applauded is the intention is well founded, the legislations well intended, and the potential well received – but something is missing! Maybe it is a case of it is too difficult to include farming in CFI and the outreach context for farmers is that the potential liabilities that could be incurred by landholders using some already approved methodologies are not properly explained and/or are dismissed as of a trivial nature. The great harm in this possibility is that the program reputation will be tainted – irrespective of its intention of fairness. Even recent Government decisions on department restructuring (especially the Department of the long name – too long to repeat) and budget constraints required by departments and the continued efficiency dividends to Treasury are not helpful to the pledge. What is hoped for by farming advocates and practitioners is a more direct show of continuous steps to perfection for the farming community and eliminating any direction that might be seen as a series of steps to dismantle or derail such a worthwhile cause from its name sake – the Carbon Farming Initiative.

CFI – untangling the confusion.

While discussing how you go about untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy. The CFI group noticed that the Nature Publishing Group has published that wide held beliefs are “scientifically flawed”. It then became necessary to wonder about agenda and again you had to ask was it to further confuse and did it serve any real purpose in publishing the article other than it being a academic assessment – it appears another clue is the time difference from the receipt of the article to publishing was around 7 months.

To quote the abstract of this subscription service found under:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n6/full/nclimate1804.html

Depletion of ecosystem carbon stocks is a significant source of atmospheric CO2 and reducing land-based emissions and maintaining land carbon stocks contributes to climate change mitigation. We summarize current understanding about human perturbation of the global carbon cycle, examine three scientific issues and consider implications for the interpretation of international climate change policy decisions, concluding that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (an idea with wide currency) is scientifically flawed. The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon is finite and the current sequestration potential primarily reflects depletion due to past land use. Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.

CO2Land org prefers an apolitical stance on what matters. However, it could not be helped that the views above may undermine our Australian values for the Carbon Farming Initiative. It may also be pertinent to put to the public that there is an immediate need to offset carbon from fossil fuels, that no measure in its self should be judged into eternity.  What this need does show is the measures should only be judged on its effects on the term a methodology may be useful. That is, does it matter, in terms of carbon offset, that it makes a difference for 10, 25 or up to 100 years. or eternity. That if you want to make a difference, and monetary gains are more a matter for survival levels as opposed to money venture gains it matters only that there is bi partisan political support for the concepts and actions.

The reference to “scientifically flawed” in the quoted article maybe a headline grabber but as the difference possible through land carbon policy is quantifiable. It is a genuine action and debate will only result in no action – and that is the tragic consequence.  We know science supports that view of the potential tragic consequence.

Movements – a Viable CFI methodology

Under debate for some time has been whether reforestation, and afforestation should be part of the CFI. It was thought only conservation planting was viable as a measure under Natural Resource Management (NRM) rules. In more recent times part of discussion was a concern that political movements would be disruptive.

Two announcements made by the Australian Government on these matters by newsletter on 12 April 2013 may be helpful for the debate. Namely:

  1. First reforestation and afforestation project approved, and
  2. No changes to methodology development following changes to the Cabinet.

Posted on April 8, 2013 by co2land, Makers – a Viable CFI methodology the point was made it is not a simple process to develop CFI Methodology and program rules are a major factor in participating, and the recent Government announcements will address most of those points (but not the coalitions position).

On point 1: The Clean Energy Regulator under the Carbon Farming Initiative has announced the first project using the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) (Reforestation and Afforestation) Determination 2013. There are now 53 projects approved under the Carbon Farming Initiative. All projects declared eligible under the CFI Act are published on the Register of Offsets Projects.

On point 2: Work on the development and assessment of Carbon Farming Initiative methodologies undertaken by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) will continue apace under new Ministerial Responsibilities announced recently by the Prime Minister.

DCCEE’s energy efficiency functions will be have been transferred into the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) while the remaining policy functions currently performed by DCCEE, including the CFI, will be have been transferred to the newly-named Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE).

Former DCCEE staff working on the CFI and other land sector measures will move to DIICCSRTE and continue their work accordingly.

Whether participating in CFI or not is still very much a matter of it depends on the location and the carbon sequestration rates that would be possible for it to be viable.

If we start by avoiding the cost of participation discussion, one non-scientific way to help you decide is to ask: Did the area to be used have really large trees present in the past? If yes it could be very viable. It follows that nature will want to regenerate those areas into large carbon rich forests. In gathering your evidence you could include old local history photos of the areas showing the large density of trees on them. In choosing a more scientific way: Gather the Lot & DP numbers and/or GPS points, and the CFI environmental tools should be useful to tell the landholder the likely sequestration rates. However, as we said in the former Co2Land org post the uncontrollable factor in proving if it is viable is the price of carbon. Notice it was not said the ‘carbon price’ as that is an artificial price set for the transition period.

If we focus on the cost of developing a methodology for inclusion into the CFI program register the major factor is cost in terms of the capability to enter into initiative. You may find innovation is required for a “creative” way to recover the cost of developing a methodology. Or is it? It follows that once published on the climate change website it becomes public information. However, it will still take some effort and there will be a need to lobby Government to allow the methodology to be used by another entity. In equity you should anticipate any agreement might require a royalty payment to the original developer.

If you can overcome the matter of cost, it becomes a question of what CFI environmental tools you refer to for the CFI Mapping and Reforestation Modeling tools. Also the methodology costs will depend on the level of verification and any additional research required, in many cases there are sufficient prior studies (such as survival & growth rates in the targeted region) and accepted calculation methods to do this could be found from a literature search, or you could talk to others trying to develop the same thing. It is understood the web page: http://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/our-projects/land/bio4 will promote further research on this matter.

One suggested project to study as a background search is the NSW Blacktown Council and their Regenesis Project. That project has lessons that can be of benefit to be aware of in your deliberations. One example lesson is they had a significant grant to develop their concepts and actually generated the first carbon credits only to have a later policy decision rule projects within urban boundaries to be ineligible. Notwithstanding, the core of their work is valid. You can view the Regenesis projects on the website – www.australiancarbontraders.com and then click on the Regenesis link on the front page.

So frustration will continue and innovation continues to be encouraged – for those eligible – and that suggests you need friends to be recognized as able to be innovative. At cross purposes you might argue!  An anonymous friend, name provided but withheld, said “in an entirely different forum some years ago we flagged this as a problem for the then announced Innovation Strategy. The senior public servant delivering the local launch responded: We can’t have people solving problems in unique ways that we can’t predict, you wouldn’t know where would it all end up!

It would seem the core problem with the current grant model is that it is primarily a funding model for the usual suspects, as practiced the truly (open) competitive component is only a small % of the funding available.

We need a better approach that covers needs of Universities and commonwealth and state research agencies separately.”

Then we hear funding has no longer been provided for strategic innovation!

Makers – a Viable CFI methodology

Recently a discussion group was asked for information on the area needed to make a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology viable. I follows the answer is not as simple as it should be and part of the problem is the rules can change and even the responsible entity itself might change. This statement is not an example of a remote possibility, it is very much what is likely to happen.

First issue: The market.

Currently a Australian Carbon Credit Unit is reported as holding steady at approximately the Carbon Price Mechanism expectation of $23 (actually ACCU spot price is $22.60 at 4 April 2013). Compared to the trading prices of others. For example the Carbon + Market Daily (www.cedaily.com.au) shows European Union Allowances (EUA eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $7.48 – no change) 
* Certified Emission Reductions (CER eligible on Australian Scheme from mid 2015 – June 2016: AUD $0.67 – up 6.4%) 
* New Zealand Units (NZU spot can’t be used to meet liabilities under the Australian scheme: NZD $1.97 – down 2.5%) 
* Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU spot Kyoto units issued under the CFI that can be used to help meet Australian scheme liabilities: AUD $22.60 – no change). They also report of conflicting market drivers, and this is in addition to the Coalition threats to dismantle the carbon price mechanism, that the European market is struggling to hold above EUR5 on moderate volumes. Problems include:

1) An increasing likelihood that backloading will be passed as more countries come out in support of the proposal; and

2) High auction volumes relative to emitter demand.

3) Increased selling in the New Zealand market as more participants’ look to switch out of their NZUs and into cheaper international units.

4) June 2016 prices for EUAs and CERs reflect the cost of these units to an entity liable under the Australian scheme’s floating price phase.

5) The EUA (December 2013 contract) is a focus as this drives price movements and is a key indicator of EU (European Union) market sentiment.

Conclusion – first issue: Transactions involving carbon give rise to substantial risk (including regulatory risk) and are not suitable for all investors. It is recommend that you seek your own independent legal or financial advice before proceeding with any investment decision

Second issue: Carbon Auction Rules.

The Clean Energy Regulator is likely to be required to offer 60 million carbon units in 2013-14 under draft carbon auction rules. The potential is the opening price is at 60% of the international market price. Follow the link of the

exposure draft of a carbon auction determination, and it will outlines arrangements for auctions that are set to begin next financial year.

If you are relying on an incoming Coalition Government to repeal the determination, you should note s113(9) of the Clean Energy Act allows the Regulator to hold auctions even without the determination. It might not be so simple as a statement to win votes – it is written in stone so to speak.

Conclusion – Second issue: Without control of the senate, or if the senate is hostile, a Coalition repeal instrument would be disallowable. This introduces additional risk, and additional to regulatory risk. As in the first issue it is recommended you seek your own independent and financial and legal advice.

Third Issue: ACCU methodology.

It costs up to $1M to develop a methodology acceptable under CFI. Once accepted the transaction cost to create the ACCU’s is said to be about $70,000. Although it is not a definite cost, it can be less but a reasonable guide and it requires you to look carefully at the potential yield of each project and whether you can smear the transaction cost across the entire project to determine the minimum size for it to be a worthwhile program.

One way to develop a methodology and reduce your cost base is to apply to the 

Methodology Development Program (MDP) for a grant to develop the methodology. The 

MDP is a 
$19.6 million for the development of methodologies for use in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The fund is administered by the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE).

However, recently the Government has moved from 26 March 2013 that DCCEE be in transition to be part of a new super department called the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. 

It is reported as a move the Australian Government hopes will be seen as logical and a way to portray that climate change is taken seriously across all of government and across all portfolios. Details changes are yet to be fully announced, albeit it is known the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy has changed with 140 projects, 33 university programs and 100 researchers affected – source ABC.net.au.

Conclusion – Third issue: Before expending too much time on the methodology. The suggestion is you follow up on who would administer the program post transition to the super department, and the will to continue with the program. Any changes will have cost implications for your efforts.

If only we had certainty!

the notion of “water flow uphill”

“They thought there was a communication problem, and that what he was saying (‘Getting the water to flow uphill for the plants’) should not be taken as a literal translation. Interesting that many of us armed with conventional wisdom, with sleeves rolled up and espousing there is only one view of the world. That is a world with a benign bias that is a result of their own ignorance, a bias shared by the establishment where they are happy to “Recognise traditional owners” but completely ignore 40,000 years of stable landscape management as being not scientifically based (due to their own biased view of what constitutes science).

Co2Land is not the author of what is written in the opening paragraph. However, on reflection it is very possible we are ignorant if not wrong for what we believe to be truth.  Truth, like real, prior, could be a synonym or even a proprietary product and still be wrong. We could be ignoring one of Einstein’s greatest tenants (the universe depends on the perspective of the observer).

Looking at the concept of a net movement of water away from drainage lines is possible when you research even at a basic level, like Wikipedia, or as follows as published by http://science.jrank.org/pages/1182/Capillary-Action.html#ixzz2JIvrD9qD:

“The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it”(Read more: Capillary Action – Liquid, Water, Force, and Surface – JRank Articles ).

This illustrates that science supports what the indigenous know in that water can back out across the slopes due to capillary action and in this way encouraging growth and interconnection of the soil “fungal mat”, and from the perspective of the observer in the drainage line moving the water ‘uphill’.  With a closed mind we might say ‘not possible’ – yet the Romans BC did it with viaducts and manipulating volume pressures to do so.  Should we have an open mind for these things? The answer appears to be it is beyond a cost benefit it is just a big yes.

If we relate this to the methodology process of the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) a strong case can be made for inclusion, greater than savanna burning. As told to us we could see success and it opens up millions of hectares of bush to better management part funded by carbon credits generated.  The advocates of this method gave CO2Land org an example of what could happen in an area of 1000ha. Said was: “If patches are prescriptive burnt on a ten year rotation then this would yield 120 tonnes of soil carbon sequestered a year, and if we assume 360 Australian Carbon Credit Units (CFI credits) @23 dollars per tonne. An income boost of +$8000 a year is possible”. If accepted is it noted all of this is possible from this activity without wholesale alteration to the natural balance.

CO2Land org has previously postulated that $7,000 per annum is needed as an enticement for participation in complex methods so this possibility would be enough to offset the liabilities of land ownership (rates, weeds control, land use etc), and give additional benefits that include productivity improvements and/or other opportunities generated.

If you wish to be critical we accept that the bio char method is acceptable under National Resource Management program (NRM). However, out point is in order to incentivize a market for the concept the CFI and ACCU’s are a better way to go and could open up a multi product concept with the potential for the way forward for the sustainable environment and hopefully those faithful to carbon will no longer be in a blue state and that will be because they no longer will be only living in hope and will be able to participate in a reality. We will get a result.

 

 

the notion of “cool” patch burning

January 2013, has been very distracting and the extreme fire conditions have woken us from our usual persistence to stay in holiday mode a little longer. Traditionally it is a less than optimum time for putting forward ideas and getting anything done. Friends schooled in adult education training warned us NOT to try and run courses in January because people retain their school holiday mindset well into their senior years, and even if you can get them to turn up they will be distracted and inattentive.

Fire has been often characterized as the best servant and the worst master (you may have heard this expressed in many different ways). Last evening at a local rural firefighting service get together, as expected, the politics of fire was in the forefront of casual discussion. Yet, some very important debate happened of interest: We talked of fire management and the attitudes of each of us towards, and the implications for, landscape management.

Introduced into the discussion was how the government measured success of their many programs. We at this point input our interest to expand the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) methodology on savanna burning to a more focused area of controlled burning as was practiced by the indigenous in times past and the difference being in those traditional ways the management was to avoid total incineration and encourage regeneration and improve soil fertility.

In relation to the traditional burning practices cited, the various land managers, both government & private, agreed the need to stimulate considerable discussion was evident. Those that opposed said they were having some trouble accepting the notion of “cool” patch burning. They don’t like it because it leaves too much charcoal on the ground which they think will fuel the next fire, and the only answer is to ensure hotter more complete burns to reduce the fuel back to mineral ash. One even went so far as to say, ‘do you think the indigenous knew what they were doing, they had no intention of managing the landscape, fire was an accident that just got away from them and the benefits were accidental’. Our reply, does it matter that they planned the benefit, what matters was they learned something and have knowledge from the experience, and the issue must be effective communication is needed for a better understanding and to ensure that knowledge is not lost. To have the attitude that all that we need to do to manage the risk for the environment is indulge in recursive behavior is nonsense.

Saying there was a communication problem was the catalyst for a more rational response and the group was then more open to accept they needed to engage in more than polite conversation and to actually open themselves to the thought our indigenous colleagues deserve an audience for what they say is a solution to our degrading rural scape.

Further background material can be followed up as Posted on January 20, 2013 by co2land

CFI – ‘black swan event’ treatments