AUSTRALIAN farmland is usually a mix of open country and remnant vegetation, but with few exceptions the remnants are badly degraded, says ecologist Johannes Bauer.Dr Bauer hopes the Australian Carbon Co-operative will supply the money, time and incentive for farmers to let these areas regenerate, where feasible, into well-managed forests.”You only have to remove grazing pressure – often only for a few functional years – for these remnants to bounce back,” he said.”That’s been happening on a massive scale in the NSW Central Tablelands over the past couple of wet years. A lot of farmers don’t have the money to carry their usual number of stock, and millions of seedlings are coming up.”Rather than view this as a threat to farm income, Dr Bauer wants farmers to consider the long term.
A hectare of well-managed yellow box trees may be currently worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, he points out. That value will increase as the availability of good timber decreases.
In Germany’s Black Forest, some families are earning a good living cutting less than 10 highly-prized old trees a year.
The essential ingredient in growing high-value timber is time – and that is the value that Dr Bauer thinks can be bought through strategic management by the co-operative of one of the newest mineral commodities on the market: carbon.