Costs Involved in an Environmental Planting Carbon Project

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin

Understand the driving factors that affect your back pocket when undertaking an environmental planting project in Australia.


First things first, it’s important to note that this article is for educational purposes only and to inform farmers of the potential costs they will encounter when they embark on an environmental planting project. You won’t find dollar values in this article and there’s a reason for that:

  1. The cost of services and products is constantly changing- whether that’s due to the cost of living or supply chain issues (think floods across the main trucking routes).
  2. The cost of services and products varies considerably from state-to-state (even region to region if we are talking WA and Qld).
  3. While the list of factors in this article is long, they may not all apply to your project. There’s always a handful of method-specific costs (e.g. only applies to plantation forestry projects), and then a handful of across-the-board costs (e.g. site works or consultants).

Hence, when it comes time to assess the feasibility of a carbon project on your property, we will tailor your quote to your context, methodology and project goals.


Finally, at the conclusion of the article, you will find a snippet of the work that carbon developers do to assist you in undertaking a carbon project. Different carbon developers will charge for their time differently. Whether that is fee-for-service (i.e. us!), or by taking a percentage of your carbon credits, it’s hard to compare, however, this will hopefully give you an indication of what signing with a carbon developer will entail.


Now let’s get stuck into the key areas that need to be considered when budgeting for your carbon project…


Helpful tip… Firstly establish your project goals

When entering the world of carbon projects, first and foremost, you should have an understanding of the ultimate purpose of your project. Your goal for a project could consist of any combination of the following:

  • Boost biodiversity
  • Enhance landscape hydration
  • Reduce erosion
  • Implement a ‘superannuation-of-sorts’ for retirement
  • Implement an ‘inheritance-of-sorts’ for future generations
  • Potentially increase property value 
  • Diversification of income
  • Getting that carbon-neutral tick

Ultimately, these factors will drive the cost of your project.


If your goal is to boost biodiversity, the total cost of seeds and/or seedlings may come with a higher price tag as you will be incorporating a greater variety of species into your mix. Similarly, if you take a conservation approach to design, you may have more detailed site works required to build contours into the landscape. Ultimately, a conscientious and environmentally sound design of a project will require an added level of design and preparation, either from yourself or whoever you want to assist in designing the project. 


There is a variety of paths you could take, all based on your business plan and vision for your property.


Cost 1: Vegetation establishment costs

The cost of completing the establishment phase of your project (i.e. all the seedlings and/or seeds are in the ground, and it is time to let them grow) involves several factors. This section will primarily suit someone looking into an environmental planting project, where a majority of the cost comes early when planting and protecting the new growth in its early years.


Seeds vs seedlings

When it comes to deciding on seedlings and/or seeds, our business-as-usual stance at the CFF is to have a mix. A mix of seeds and seedlings can: 

  1. boosts biodiversity with a variety of species incorporated and 
  2. mean that even if some seeds don’t germinate in year 1, you will have the seedlings growing regardless. 

Together, seedlings and seeds can make a wicked team, with the seedlings protecting seeds, and then working in tandem to build your vegetation cover.


You can understand the differences and similarities between seeds and seedlings in this table:



Machinery & labour

Whether you require large earthworks, or a tree planter for seedling planting, machinery & labour is required to assist when planting across a few hundred, or thousands of hectares. 


When thinking about the need for earthworks and machinery, soil type heavily influences your site preparation and establishment costs, i.e., rocky or hardpan soils require heavier machinery and therefore planting is slower going.


Our approach to projects means you can utilise the resources you already have; whether that’s your neighbour’s Posi-Track or you opt to support local earthworks or tree planting company, you can decide where the cash lands.


Cost 2: Seedling Safety & Support



You can just imagine how tasty fresh saplings look for our friendly kangaroos or livestock (see why we didn’t call this section pest control). Whether you require fencing of environmental planting areas from livestock or wild animals, or to define new paddocks for soil carbon projects, this is a cost you will need to budget for. 


Pest management

The presence and threat of pests can drive up pricing and will differ from location to location. The pest management costs may come in the form of shooting teams, baiting, or browsing deterrents, all of which impact the cost of your project.


Soil inputs

Herbicides, pesticides, or fertilisers, whether synthetic or not (think compost, worm tea or other innovative nutrient-boosting methods), will be required to support the seedlings from pre-planting through to as long as it takes for them to thrive independently. It’s a tough world out there for little saplings, and you will want to make sure your vegetation growth is hitting milestones so you can be credited accordingly. 


Soil preparation

You will also need to think about the soil of the project. Will the seeds be direct seeded, or will you need to deep-rip to provide a better-suited landscape for seedlings to be planted? Would the area benefit from larger earthworks to integrate contour banks or move limestone outcrops so the implementation of your project is smooth sailing? These are all preparatory actions you may need to think about before it comes time to plant.


Cost 3: Project management and support

A big part of any carbon project is making sure that your project is ticking the necessary boxes of its registered methodologies. That’s where CFF comes in… Essentially, we help farmers follow the rules while optimising project design and delivery for the best outcomes. 


Here’s a taste of what help you can opt to receive when partnering with the CFF.


Feasibility Report

Learn more about this stage for plantation, soil carbon, or environmental planting projects.

  • Pre-feasibility presentation
  • Feasibility report

Project Registration

  • Templates for all ERF-required documentation
  • Project mapping
  • Project registration: collation, submission, and compliance support for registration with the ERF
  • Local and state authority approvals

Project Setup 

  • Guides and support for taxes, management plans, due diligence, and compliance
  • Project work plan/timeline
  • Baseline carbon accounting management and organisation
  • Third-party sourcing, quoting, and cost optimisation
  • Third-party contractor onboarding coordination and monitoring

Project Design

  • Record keeping
  • Emissions baseline calculating
  • Detailed mapping and design of project areas
  • Planting plan design review
  • Ongoing monitoring of third-party deliverables and work plan updates
  • Additional coordination support
  • Post-planting FullCAM modelling

Ongoing support

  • Project support
  • Offset reporting
  • Forester Inspections 
  • Audit organisation and reporting
  • Emissions accounting

Ready to find out more?

Explore our range of educational resources in our Carbon Farming Education Hub where we frequently publish educational articles, webinars, and guidebooks. 


When you’re ready to explore the feasibility of undertaking a carbon project on your property, email us at or give us a bell at (08) 6835 1140 to be connected with one of our project facilitators.

Sign up for our newsletter

© 2024. The Carbon Farming Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

The Carbon Farming Foundation (ABN 67 645 498 004) is a Corporate Authorised Representative (AFS Representative No.001298535) of True Oak Investments Ltd (ABN 81 002 558 956, AFSL 238184).

The information on this website is general financial product advice only. It does not take your personal financial objectives, situation or needs into consideration. We recommend that you read our Financial Services Guide and consider seeking independent advice before making a financial decision.