Maintaining property rights requires getting on the front foot

Our paddocks are on the negotiating table

Opinion
Josie Angus says it is time Australian farmers got on the front foot when it comes to calculating emissions from their sector.

Josie Angus says it is time Australian farmers got on the front foot when it comes to calculating emissions from their sector.

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COMMENT: It is time to get accurate and equitable emissions definitions and targets.

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There is a well funded movement of lobbyists, non-government organisations (NGO), supra-national organisations and corporates that are once again making a play for more of our trees - as a corner stone to signing Australia up to net zero emissions targets.

Australian farmers need to be awake to the fact that our paddocks are on the negotiating table - again and right now.

It is not just airlines and miners, or even the usual anti-beef global brigade.

Have a look at last week's glossy EY Australia report presented by the so-called "Farmers for Climate Action".

Groups like this, funded by such groups as Tim Flannery's Climate Council, are banging on the doors of our government on a daily basis.

It is time we added our voice - and vigorously - to the chorus.

It is not hard to establish just how vague and variable emissions calculations from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) are.

Almost every country has a different calculation basis.

For example, the USA claims sequestration totaling 10 per cent of its total emissions via "forests staying forests".

A handy 129 million tonnes of its emissions are offset by garden trees in urban areas.

Sitting behind these calculations are all-important definitions, and each country gets to almost pick their own.

"Forest" - and the flow-on definition of "deforestation" - can be defined as everything from 10pc cover of trees expected to grow to two metres in height to 30pc cover of trees expected to grow to five metres.

Several countries exclude agricultural land altogether from their definition of forest.

Finally, layered over the top, is how forest cover is measured.

This includes the Australian model of satellite pictures to the USA, where people actually head out into the forest, measure real trees and assess forest health.

If you ever need proof of the gulf between US vegetation policy and Australia then last's weeks "Cut-a-Cedar" day in Oklahoma is a shining example.

The day, sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, encouraged people to chop down at least one cedar tree, take a photo and tag the Department on social media.

The stated purpose of the day was to boost herbaceous food and cover for birds and pollinators, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, improve forage quality and quantity for livestock and increase water availability for both the landscape and livestock.

Could we dream of such a day in Australia?

Agricultural land use and vegetation management in Australia is being restricted well beyond international "norms", or allowable, methods of emissions calculation.

Dangerously, we seem to be focused on "own goals".

Many of our own organisations and industry bodies are trumpeting these flawed calculations on vegetation management into industry goals around carbon neutrality.

There is a way Australia can continue to meet its international emissions targets and allow Australian producers to get on with managing their landscapes, actually protecting the on-the-ground environment and producing food.

It is time we got on the front foot, embrace definitions that are equitable and accurate for our agricultural sector and our country and present our case - louder than the cries from those who seek to negotiate away a further erosion of our property rights.

- Josie Angus is a Central Queensland beef producer.

The story Maintaining property rights requires getting on the front foot first appeared on Stock & Land.

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