Local company leads the way in carbon trading

Local businessman Mark Jackson checks out maps of private forests in Queensland that will be saved from clearing by his carbon trading project the biggest carbon emission reduction project ever undertaken in Australia.

Lismores Mark Jackson is on a mission to save 30,000 hectares of Queenslands native forests.

Mark is the founder of The Carbon Pool, which is managing an innovative project called Minding The Carbon Store the biggest carbon trading and emission reduction project ever undertaken in Australia.

And the theory is simple.

Trees store carbon. By paying farmers not to clear forests on their farm, carbon dioxide (the major greenhouse gas) is not released into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas emission is reduced. The rate of global warming is decreased.

Its not always possible for a company to cost-effectively reduce the direct emissions from their service or product, so they can buy emission reductions from elsewhere, said the companys managing director Mark Jackson.

Rio Tinto Aluminium has already realised the environmental and public relations value of carbon trading.

We are pleased that Rio Tinto Aluminium has become our foundation partners and has committed to purchase one million tonnes of verified emissions abatement (saving about 13,000 hectares of native vegetation) to help offset the emissions from its global operations, Mark said.

A ban on broadscale clearing of native vegetation in Queensland comes into effect at the end of this year. This deadline has precipitated a lot of clearing around 700 football fields a day. (The Queensland govermment has set a cap of 500,000 hectares to be cleared.)

What our project has demonstrated is that a cheap way to generate emission reduction is to pay landowners not to clear country which they would have otherwise cleared, said Mark, who has a background in vegetation management.

Clearing land gives farmers more room for grazing and other ventures that subsequently increase the propertys value.

But as Mark says, Farmers are happy not to clear their land if theres a viable alternative. And there is.

The farmers instead contract, through The Carbon Pool, to protect their remnant forest and woodland for 120 years. This carbon emission saving is then assessed according to Kyoto Protocol guidelines, given a monetary value and sold to companies wishing to offset their carbon emissions.

Farmers can actually earn more by not clearing their land than by grazing and protect biodiversity.

The project has been welcomed by both Queensland Conservation and The Wilderness Society.

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