Eco Investor June 2011


Land Sale Alternative to Monoculture Plantations

A WA initiative called ‘Trees for Tomorrow’ wants to set new standards in sustainable funding and enable carbon sink plantations to recognize biodiversity.

The program, by Carbon Neutral, a not-for-profit carbon advisory firm and carbon offset retailer, is a revolving system where Carbon Neutral purchases ecologically fragile landscapes, restores them with strategic revegetation, secures carbon credits and ultimately sells on the estate to finance further purchases.

Chairman, Matt Porter, said the purchase of the land will contribute to a cycle that ensures biodiversity remains an important factor of carbon sink programs. “A number of public listed companies create carbon sink plantations using Mallee Eucalypt trees and, while the trees sequester carbon, the benefit to the environment is limited,” he said.

“Southern Western Australia is one of the world’s significant biodiversity hotspots. By allowing monoculture plantings in this fragile environment, we ignore the complexity and sensitivity of the area’s ecosystem. A much more comprehensive approach would incorporate biodiverse plantings to recreate natural habitats and reconnect native species.”

Mr Porter said the same area is also facing enormous pressures through land clearing and climate change.

‘Trees for Tomorrow’ was launched this month with the release of three parcels of land in rural WA.

One site is 404 hectares at Badgebup, 45 kilometres east of Katanning, which is only partially planted with 160 hectares to give the owner options for land use.

A site at Cranbrook is 251 hectares and close to the Albany Highway. It has a building envelope, views to the Stirling Ranges and beautiful remnant vegetation with lovely orchards and wildflowers, he said.

A 326 hectare site at Boxwood Hills, half an hour from Bremer Bay, has a good aspect of Bluff Knoll, is near two National Parks and adjacent to reserves on two of its sides.

Carbon Neutral’s initiative is supported by Gondwana Link, an organization that helps restore biodiversity across Southern Western Australia.

Gondwana Link director, Keith Bradby, said “Ecological restoration is an essential but expensive exercise that needs more than donations and occasional government grants. Carbon has to become a major part of the solution to our challenges in south western Australia.”

“The prevailing carbon offset system is flawed as it can permanently lock up land with little regard for biodiversity and the very significant ecological values we achieve by linking habitats.”

Two of the three properties being offered for sale contribute significantly to achieving the Gondwana Link, which is aiming to fill critical gaps in the remaining wildlife habitat of the south west region.

The selling agent for ‘Trees for Tomorrow’, Marc Drexel, is using the Carbon Neutral land release to launch his new environment-focused real estate company, ARCeden. He says the opportunity to invest is not simply an ethical investment, or a well located lifestyle opportunity, but may give the new owner potential for some of the carbon sequestration benefits and a future income from carbon sink tree plantings.

Carbon Neutral land sale prices start from $269,000 to $499,000 and carbon credit profit share incentives can be negotiated.





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