Natural Resources SA Arid Lands Carbon Project

The SA Arid Lands (SAAL) Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board’s Rangelands Carbon Project ‘Climate change and carbon economy extension and outreach in the SA Arid Lands’ aims to develop and deliver extension services for land managers in the SA Arid Lands who may benefit from emissions management.

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government. It provides specific support and current information on greenhouse gas emission management to pastoral industries and will identify opportunities for land managers to participate in the carbon economy.

The sorts of activities being considered by the SA Arid Lands Rangelands Carbon Project team for use by landholders in the SA Arid Lands are: carbon sequestration in plants through the management of grazing pressure and decreasing emissions through herd management methods. We are investigating ways these activities can result in landholders diversifying their businesses to include earning of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) through uptake and storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.  We also expect that we can identify productivity and environmental co-benefits from these activities.

The following methods for sequestration of carbon or avoiding emissions may be applicable in the SA Arid Lands and have been approved by the Clean Energy Regulator for use by landholders wanting to enter the Australian carbon market: 

  • Beef Herd Management 
  • Reforestation by environmental or Mallee plantings
  • Avoiding deforestation of native forest
  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Feeding Nitrates to Beef Cattle
  • Sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems
  • Native Forest from Managed regrowth.

You can read more about the details of these methodologies here.  

These methodologies are being investigated by the SA Arid Lands Carbon Project team for use in the SA Arid Lands.
At least one other method involving sheep herd emissions management is currently under development that may be applicable in the SA Arid Lands.
Note that there are some legislative barriers to undertaking carbon farming in the SA arid lands on pastoral leases.  The SA Arid Lands Carbon Farming Project Team are exploring ways to overcome these barriers.
What’s happened so far?

Staff delivering this project on behalf of the SAAL NRM Board have:

  • Engaged with land managers about emission reduction and carbon sequestration activities and the opportunities offered by the Emissions Reduction Fund
  • Delivered workshops in regional centres on emission reduction and carbon sequestration activities, the opportunities offered by the Emissions Reduction Fund and provided updates to SA Arid Lands NRM Groups and NRM staff
  • Developed and internal discussion paper to address the issue of SA Government ownership of carbon on leasehold Pastoral land
  • In collaboration with landholders, Rural Business Solutions Pty Ltd and Engine Room Consulting, a Decision Making Tool (REDDS) has been developed to assist land managers in the rangelands to analyse the pros and cons of entering the carbon market and to review the possible savings from a reduction of on-farm emissions.

The tool now includes all aspects of on and off-farm income streams including activities such as tourism and carbon farming. REDDs is a PC-based program that allows total management of their pastoral business including carbon sequestration and emission reduction activities and all non-pastoral activities such as tourism.  It allows for all day to day inputs relating to their pastoral business to be entered, their abatement or sequestration activities to be included and market factors such as stock, wool prices and Australian Carbon Credit Unit prices to be included.  This allows a landholder to review the total effect of emission reduction or sequestration activities on their business bottom line.

Activities in 2016

Feasibility Studies

We are working with 14 landholders to participate in carbon farming feasibility studies.

We want to know if capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere is a realistic option in the arid rangelands while still maintaining a viable pastoral business, if emissions reduction activities can supplement incomes on pastoral properties  and what co-benefits to pastoral production, such as faster turn off rates, occur when undertaking carbon farming in arid regions?  

In the studies we will work with each property to undertake a "business as usual" analysis of their pastoral business using a computer based pastoral management tool. We will then use this tool to run a series of "what if" scenarios to see what future benefits and income could be made from diversification into carbon farming, emission reduction or other activities.

Case Studies

Five of these properties will be invited to be part of an in-depth case study looking at Carbon Farming method, emission reduction activities and carbon neutral certification.

Workshops and information sessions

  • Unlock your Pastoral Potential – Workshops to showcase a range of ideas and services available to increase your pastoral productivity
  • Pastoral Profit – Workshops to help improve your understanding of financial matters and assist you in making sound business decisions
  • NRM District Groups – regular updates and presentations on carbon farming developments will take place with District NRM groups.  These meetings are open to the public.

Lead agency

SA Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board


Australian Government


More information