The Benefit of Biodiversity in Carbon Farming

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Biodiversity underpins any healthy ecosystem. Learn how implementing beneficial practices can support positive biodiversity outcomes.


There is plenty of chatter about the planned Nature Repair Market in the works for Australia. According to the draft legislation currently under consultation and review, this will be a market run parallel to the national carbon market. Its purpose is to make it easier to invest in nature repair and improve biodiversity across the country.


But even without this market established yet, we see plenty of carbon project owners investing in biodiversity. So, keep reading to understand why biodiversity matters to your carbon project and discover the practices that lead to carbon projects that create better outcomes for nature and biodiversity.


Why does biodiversity matter in a carbon project?

Whether a carbon project uses methodologies like environmental planting, plantation forestry, or practices to build soil organic carbon, they all have one thing in common – they are nature-based solutions. The different methodologies harness nature in specific ways to produce a measurable outcome, like carbon sequestration.


Carbon sequestration is just one contribution that a healthy, natural ecosystem provides to people and economies on the planet. There are dozens of others, ranging from improving resilience to weather, water, and erosion of landscapes to providing materials like food and timber or even unique physical experiences central to tourism and local identity for many communities.


A natural ecosystem works best when it features many diverse and locally-appropriate species. Diversity means the environment is more robust, more resilient, and better able to deliver the services we need and expect. In recognition of this added value, carbon projects with more biodiverse outcomes or other co-benefits have been attracting a price premium on the voluntary market for some time.  


Top five practices to make carbon projects better for biodiversity


1. Maintain and connect intact natural ecosystems

Many farms have blocks of vegetation left to grow, often too dense to get a quadbike through. While the intentions of leaving and letting be are great, there are a few more active things you can do to support the native species in the area. 


The World Resources Institute explains what people can do to help the land and limit the frequency and severity of disturbances that can harm the regrowth of native species:

To prevent the spread of wildfires, people can build firebreaks and clear the forest floor of dry debris. To stop cattle from munching on saplings, they can build fences to keep them out. To give native trees enough room to grow, they can remove invasive grasses and shrubs. To encourage new vegetation to sprout from underground root systems, farmers can channel water into the soil and prune branches. And, if natural regeneration on its own does not increase tree cover quickly enough or the targeted species fail to pop up on their own, people can selectively plant trees to fill the gaps.”

The nature repair market intends to recognise landholders who restore and actively manage local habitats for biodiverse outcomes (more on this below). Land managers can designate those land areas typically not covered by their carbon project as protected areas and work to connect these distributed areas with registered carbon project sites to develop wildlife corridors. Connecting protected zones through wildlife corridors or strategically located belts of habitat allows native species to spread and maintain healthy, diverse populations.


2. Always plan for more species rather than less

Whether a carbon project owner is focused on building soil organic carbon by cover cropping or generating carbon credits through environmental planting, it pays to include more local species in the mix. Biodiverse plantings are more resilient against pests and climate stress and are ultimately more likely to succeed over the length of a project. 


For soil carbon projects, the beneficial macroinvertebrates and fungi in healthy soils love a diverse range of cover crops. Seeding a range of crops is also correlated with additional benefits such as increased productivity, nutrient availability, and the ability of the land to hold and cycle fresh water, which is a huge boost to the farming operation taking place around a carbon project.

The same applies to project owners investing in environmental planting or even plantation forestry – more diverse plantings improve water quality and also provide better habitat structure for local species. 


3. Don’t sit on the fence – build them

Once the hard work of revegetation is underway, it pays to add protection. Fencing zones undergoing revegetation to exclude livestock will allow newly regenerating species to establish and limit their natural grazing pressure to native species such as kangaroos. There are guidelines around how to exclude the right kinds of animals (usually the big ones with hooves) and permit access by native species that will start to use these zones as habitat. Another huge plus! 


Fencing and protection are also crucial for waterways and wetlands co-located around a carbon project. These are hotspots for wildlife, insects, and healthy ecosystem function, and excluding the right kind of animals from doing damage or interfering with any regeneration is important for landowners looking to improve and benefit from biodiversity on their properties. 


4. Include co-benefits for livestock by creating shelter belts

Clever design means that areas set aside for revegetation can also benefit farm productivity, especially regarding livestock. Shelter belts that feature a diverse range of species can act as corridors for wildlife, increase the number of trees planted on the farm, and contribute to the health and well-being of livestock, especially new calves and lambs. 


5. Something extra – how about new income streams through agroforestry?

Practising agroforestry improves biodiversity using diverse, local species and creates new income for carbon farmers. Planting species that have market value for timber products has meant that when these vegetation zones reach a particular maturity and when projects can begin rotating new zones into production, these species can be harvested for high-value sawlogs. Over their lifetime, these vegetation zones perform an invaluable role in biodiversity by providing habitat for birds, insects, and mammals and contributing to soil structure.


More on the nature repair market

The nature repair market will recognise landholders who restore or manage local habitats and grant them biodiversity certificates which can then be sold to other parties.


“A well-designed nature repair market would encourage and support projects that restore and protect nature, which may include those that:

  • improving or restoring existing native vegetation by activities such as fencing or weeding
  • planting a mix of local species on a previously cleared area
  • protecting rate grasslands that provide habitat for an endangered species.” (DCCEEWW)

Visit The CFF’s Q&A Webinar and educational article, developed in collaboration with Adrian Ward from Accounting for Nature, to learn more about integrating biodiversity measures into a carbon farming project.


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.

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