Voluntary biodiversity stewardship market to reward farmers for environmental outcomes

19 November 2021
  • The Australian Government will shortly begin consultation on legislation to support new income streams for farmers who improve biodiversity outcomes on their land
  • This legislation would build on the programs under the Australian Government’s existing Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Package.

The Australian Government is developing legislation that would underpin a national voluntary biodiversity stewardship market. The legislation would:

  • provide a consistent and credible way to describe and measure biodiversity outcomes
  • create a new form of tradeable property 
  • establish assurance and compliance systems that ensure integrity of the market

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 would 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,” Minister Littleproud 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 (ANU) 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. 

“This 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.”

Consultation on the legislation will be open to select stakeholders and will seek views about key elements of scheme design required to create a successful voluntary market. The Government looks forward to hearing the views of stakeholders and will consider next steps once consultation has concluded.

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Fast Facts:

  • 58% of Australia’s land is privately owned or leased for agricultural production, highlighting the importance of farmers as environmental stewards. 
  • A fully-fledged national voluntary biodiversity market would deliver significant environmental gains for Australia and new income for farmers.