PLANS to pay farmers for the biodiversity benefits they deliver have progressed today with the Australian Government kicking off the legislation process.
The legislation will underpin a national voluntary biodiversity stewardship market. It will be designed to provide a consistent and credible way to describe and measure biodiversity outcomes, to create a new form of tradeable property and to establish assurance and compliance systems that ensure integrity of the market.
It will build on the programs under the Australian Government's existing Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package.
Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said the proposed legislative framework would deliver a range of benefits including opportunities for farmers to earn income by delivering biodiversity outcomes for the environment.
"The legislation will ensure that farmers can be recognised for delivering environmental services and would provide a means of earning a drought-proof income from less productive areas of farmland," he said.
"The private sector would also gain access to an easy and cost-effective way to invest in credible on-farm biodiversity.
"Many corporations in Australia are interested, or already investing, in projects with biodiversity benefits.
"My Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package is already demonstrating how a market can deliver financial returns to farmers, by piloting projects that deliver biodiversity outcomes alongside carbon, and enhance remnant vegetation."
As part of these pilots, the Australian National University has created the processes and protocols that measure and reward farmers for undertaking the projects, delivering a system that will be respected by international markets.
Mr Littleproud said the legislation would build on the success of these pilots and deliver a long-term pathway to market for farmers.
"A Biodiversity Trading Platform will link farmers with potential buyers, and importantly, provide information to farmers to plan projects while maintaining agricultural production," he said.
Consultation on the legislation will be open to select stakeholders and the Government will seek views about key elements of scheme design required to create a successful voluntary market.
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