Carbon Farming for Biodiversity

Carbon farming could boost Australia’s biodiversity, but experts have warned cautious optimism.

University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute director of ecological modelling Professor Corey Bradshaw has authored a new paper in the journal Biological Conservation, reviewing the consequences of Australia’s carbon economy on biodiversity, with contributions from 30 scientists.

He said they could help each other, but land management had to be done with biodiversity in mind from the start.

Professor Bradshaw said tree plantings would be the best way to encourage biodiversity, but warned that the fastest-growing, simplest and foreign species just to farm carbon.

“Carbon plantings will only have real biodiversity value if they comprise appropriate native tree species and provide suitable habitats and resources for valued fauna,” he said

“Such plantings could however risk severely altering local hydrology and reducing water availability.”

The environmental expert said regrowth in areas that have been cleared also needed to be managed carefully to benefit carbon initiatives and biodiversity and changes to agriculture around carbon farming would benefit biodiversity.

Professor Brawshaw recommended modifications including reductions in tillage frequency, livestock densities and fertiliser use, and retention and regeneration of native shrubs.

He said carbon pricing projects could help conserve biodiversity, but only if properly managed from the outset, with long term planning, not short sightedness.

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