Insights / April 2nd, 2024

Clarity for South Australian Pastoralists on Carbon Farming

The South Australian Parliament recently passed the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Use of Pastoral Land) Amendment Bill 2024 (SA) (“Bill”).

The Bill is currently awaiting Royal Assent and will come into effect on a date to be set by proclamation (to be confirmed).

The Bill, once in effect, will amend the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation Act 1989 (SA) (“Act”) to provide clarity for South Australian pastoralists by permitting the use of their land for carbon farming projects.

The Bill also permits the use of pastoral land for “conversation purposes” such as the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems or native vegetation (including by way of heritage agreements). Whilst the Bill does not specifically permit projects undertaken under the Nature Repair Market, the Pastoral Board may approve such projects to be undertaken on pastoral land if it considers them to be for “conservation purposes”.

It is important to note that carbon farming is only permitted on pastoral land if the land is also being used for pastoral or conservation purposes. Accordingly, it seems that the purpose of the Bill is to allow a carbon farming project to be used in conjunction with or ancillary to pastoral or conservation uses, but not as the sole use of the land. This drafting could limit the prospect of large players in the carbon market who in recent times across Australia have sought to buy large tracts of agricultural land and use the land wholly or predominately for carbon farming projects.

In addition, the use of pastoral land for carbon farming/conservation projects(s) is not expressed in the Bill as being automatically permitted under any pastoral lease; rather, Pastoralists who are considering using their land for carbon farming/conservation project(s) must first seek the Pastoral Board’s approval to that use.

This remains consistent with current practices in that the carbon farming/conservation project can only be undertaken if the Pastoral Board’s approval is so obtained under the Act

The Bill also seeks to amend the Act so that the Minister must consult with key stakeholder groups

(the Pastoral Board, Conservation Council, First Nations of South Australia Aboriginal Corporation, Livestock SA and Primary Producers SA) before any regulations associated with the Act are made in relation to carbon farming.

If you have any queries on the Bill or carbon farming more generally please contact Sam Richardson and Deanna Riebolge of our specialist Agribusiness team.

This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional legal advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional legal advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication and to the extent permitted by law, Cowell Clarke does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting or refraining to act in relation on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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