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Warning for Wheatbelt Farmers Over Carbon Trading

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Sustainable Agriculture

A leading Australian agroforestry expert is warning of the risks the large scale planting of trees to offset carbon emissions could bring in the WA Wheatbelt. Rowan Reid has spent the past 25 years working in the agroforestry industry, as an academic, private tree grower and consultant. While passionate about farmers growing trees, he said landholders needed to be aware of the risks and opportunities involved in carbon trading schemes. Rowan Reid will be speaking at a series of public community forums in Wongan Hills, Merredin and Hyden in April, organised by the natural resource group Wheatbelt NRM. He said carbon trading companies were already looking for land in the WA Wheatbelt to plant to trees. “If landholders enter into a carbon trading agreement blind, they could find they are responsible for making sure that carbon stays in the forest for the next 99 years, meaning they carry the risk of fire, disease and drought,” Rowan Reid said. “If farmers can negotiate a deal which ensures that useful trees go where they are needed most and the risk is carried by the investors, then carbon trading might be good for farmers and the region. “Problems may arise when companies wanting to offset their carbon emissions buy whole farms and plant them to trees, pocket the credits and walk away.” Wheatbelt NRM’s Natarsha Woods said Rowan Reid had been invited to speak at the forums because of his experience in helping landholders understand the risks and opportunities of agroforestry. “We’ve already been in discussions with some companies wanting to trade carbon credits in the Wheatbelt,” Natarsha Woods said. “But these companies are encouraging farmers to plant trees in alleys, which is a far more sustainable approach. “Not only would these alleys generate income for farmers, they would also help to tackle wind and water erosion.” To hear more about carbon trading and agroforestry in the WA Wheatbelt, people are invited to attend the free community forums in Wongan Hills, Merredin and Hyden on April 12th, 13th and 14th. For more information contact Wheatbelt NRM on 9690 2250. Media contacts: Rowan Reid, or mobile 0409 609 939 Natarsha Woods, or 9690 2234