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Scrapping perverse rainfall regulation means more trees planted; more carbon stored

plantation trees

VFPA welcomes the Federal Government’s announcement to reverse the highly contested rainfall regulation, known as ‘water rule’, under the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI).

The Victorian Forest Products Association (VFPA) welcomed today’s decision as a win for forestry and the environment, and importantly, the decision will improve Victoria’s sovereign timber capability. The amendment clears the way for planting up to 100 million trees Australia-wide in the next decade.

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) incentivises Australian businesses to undertake activities that store carbon. Forestry naturally sequesters carbon, and every tree harvested – and replanted – will store carbon, along with any harvested wood products. Participating in the ERF is a great incentive for developing new plantations that contribute to climate policy targets. However, a barrier to participation was the ineligibility of projects in areas receiving more than 600mm of annual rainfall. It meant that growers could only earn carbon credits if they planted trees in unsuitable areas – or the plantings were for biodiversity or carbon plantings and thus not commercial. Until now, only Victoria’s Northeast was exempt from the contested water rule.

“The regulation was not only inherently unfair towards forestry compared with the environmental and carbon plantings. It also defied any logic and science. The Federal Government has committed to planting 1 billion trees by 2030. For that to happen, the right kind of trees need to be planted at scale in the right areas, and not somewhere where there is so little rainfall that they basically can’t grow”, explained Deb Kerr, VFPA CEO.

“Today’s announcement means that our Victorian growers can start planning to expand our plantation estate in the Green Triangle and Gippsland. It’s also important to understand that around half the area is simply replanting the estate lost to other uses or fire over the last decade.”

“We commend Victoria’s Minister for Agriculture The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP who stood alongside our plantation industry and drove this issue on a federal level. Today’s decision is an important milestone for forestry – we can finally get underway with planting much-needed trees. Every dollar invested in plantations and every tree put in the ground and harvested is part of the climate solution”, Ms Kerr concluded.

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