R. M. Williams Agricultural Holdings (RMWAH) has purchased a AU$13m pastoral property in the Northern Territory with the goal of funding the restoration and conservation of land through the sale of carbon rights and bio-diversity values.
The Henbury Conservation Project, which was officially launched in late July, will see cattle permanently removed from the property and a conservation plan implemented, with the expectation of generating up to 1.5m carbon credits a year. The project will restore the landscape and protect several endangered species and will be achieved through working with traditional owners.
RMWAH purchased Henbury cattle station, which is around 130km south of Alice Springs, with help from the federal government’s Caring for Country program. Law firm Baker and McKenzie advised RMWAH on the deal. Martijn Wilder, a partner at Baker and McKenzie and global head of the firm’s Environmental Markets practice, represented RMWAH and will be chair of the independent committee to oversee the project.
“This is a significant deal, as it is the first time private capital has been attracted to such a conservation scheme, that traditionally is the province of philanthropic ventures,” he said. “It’s the first time a private company has worked with the government to buy a property to put into the National Reserve System and fund it with carbon rights. It will feed directly into the government’s carbon farming initiative and carbon pricing policy.”
In a statement, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Mark Dreyfus welcomed the project to rehabilitate Henbury Station, which is expected to be supported by the sale of credits created under the Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative.
“The Carbon Farming Initiative will unlock new economic opportunities, just like this one at Henbury, for farmers and other landholders who take action to reduce greenhouse gases,” Dreyfus said. “This is a key part of the Gillard government’s climate change agenda, and is set to open up new income streams for farmers and landholders across regional Australia.
“Landholders and investors around the country will be watching this exciting pilot project for its innovative approach to conservation and biodiversity. They’ll be looking to see how R.M.Williams Agricultural Holdings goes about the business of generating biodiverse carbon credits to support the regeneration of Henbury Station.”
David Pearse, managing director of R.M.Williams Agricultural Holdings described the project as ‘learning by doing’.
“We’re in the business of sustainable agriculture and we see an exciting opportunity in carbon sequestration,” Pearse said in a statement.
“By actively managing fire, water, weeds and feral animals on this former pastoral property we’ll encourage natural revegetation, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing carbon in the soil and native plants,” Pearse said. “We’ll be creating sustainable habitat and enhancing biodiversity. Over the next year we’ll be working with respected biodiversity and carbon advisers to establish a rigorous scientific methodology for carbon projects like Henbury.”