RDA recognises and promotes the investment opportunities which agro-forestry present for adding value to traditional broad acre farming in the Murraylands and for replacement of former irrigation enterprises in the Riverland. To support regional development of agro-forestry RDA M&R initiated the Murraylands & Riverland Agro-Forestry Working Group in 2008 as a collaborative partnership between the South Australian Murray Darling Basin, Natural Resource Management Board, South Australian Farmers Federation, Primary Industry of South Australia, Forestry, South Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, Local Action Planning Groups including Goolwa & Wellington LAP, Murray Mallee LAP, Coorong LAP, Eastern & Hills and Murray Plains LAP and Ngarrindjeri Ruwe Enterprises Pty. Ltd, Coorong Farm Forestry Network and the regional farming communities. Their focus has been upon the multiple benefits of forestry in adding value to traditional farming activities. More recently their focus has been upon the emerging carbon economy.
To support development of agro-forestry and carbon capture projects the RDA M&R commissioned SAMRIC Pty. Ltd. (now Mapping Services Australia) - specialists in the field of GIS mapping – to develop maps of soil types, rainfall patterns and vegetation prospects for the Murraylands region in 2009. These maps are available (see link in right hand column).
The combined resources of the Murraylands Agro-forestry Working Group with additional financial support from the South Australian Government, Department of Economic Development and Trade facilitated the Murray & Mallee Carbon Forum which informed regional landowners of the potential benefits and pitfalls of the emerging carbon market. The quality and breadth of information presented at the Carbon Forum and practical Field Days has underpinned interest in the Carbon Farming Initiative.
Regional landowner/farmers have strong interest in carbon capture as an additional income source. Many regional landowners/farmers have already established significant carbon sinks through maintenance of existing natural vegetation, re-vegetation and forestry projects which provide multiple benefits for wind and soil erosion, salinity control and shelter belts – at their own expense. The Carbon Farming Initiative now offers opportunities to redress some of these injustices. A well designed CFI should enable landowners/farmers to benefit financially from their previous and future environmental efforts. After all land owners/farmers will provide the essential ingredients – land and energy – on which the success of the Carbon Farming Initiative will depend.