Reef Credits Scheme Takes Flight
June 8, 2018
Qantas has become the first corporate investor to jump on board a new reef credits scheme that will help to expand funding in reef water quality projects.
Reef Credits – similar to carbon credits – is Australia’s first market-based system providing ecosystem service payments in exchange for making changes to reduce nutrient, pesticide and sediment run-off to the Great Barrier Reef. It also offers a measurable, verifiable and audited system that guarantees a result for investors.
The scheme was developed by GreenCollar, a leading environmental markets developer. Natural resource management organisations Terrain NRM and NQ Dry Tropics have been foundation partners of the scheme, and will trial Reef Credits through two Queensland Government-funded reef water quality projects, the Major Integrated Projects. The initiative has also received NAB Foundation backing.
One of the first projects to produce Reef Credits is the Babinda Reef Project – a pilot Carbon and Reef Credit project developed by GreenCollar and Jaragun Natural Resource Management that rebuilds wetlands and replants endangered rainforest, allowing nature to filter the water before it reaches the Reef.
As well as capturing carbon and improving water quality, the project is restoring critical habitat for unique native wildlife including the endangered Southern Cassowary and more than 70 threatened flora and fauna species.
James Schultz, CEO of GreenCollar, said there are currently nine identified pilot sites in the Johnstone region in the Wet Tropics.
“Over the next six months we expect to have moved beyond the pilot phase and be delivering significant reef credit volumes to the market. The vision here is that reef credit volumes become just another part of doing business in much the way carbon has become for graziers throughout western NSW and QLD,” he said.
Carole Sweatman, CEO of Terrain NRM, welcomed the commitment from Qantas and said it was exciting to see a local idea being backed by a nationally recognised corporate.
“Reef Credits was an idea that has been community consultation in the Johnstone and Tully catchments as a way to expand the scope of what could be achieved to improve water quality,” she said.
“We have come a long way to improve water quality flowing to the reef but there is still a lot of work to be done and this scheme has the potential to boost government and farmer funding and help make significant headway on our reef initiatives,” she said.