CASSOWARY CREDITS – A NEW ECOSYSTEM SERVICE MARKET
A new independently verified and tradeable ‘Cassowary Credit’ aims to attract new investment sources and boost the funds available to landholders for habitat restoration.
Terrain NRM is working with private industry, government, scientists, indigenous groups and wildlife experts to explore the potential of this new ecosystems services market scheme. Put simply, Cassowary Credits would involve a payment from an investor such as a corporate entity, philanthropist or government to a land manager to improve habitat for cassowaries.
Project coordinator Chelsy Maloney said the ‘Kickstart Cassowary Credits’ project was testing the potential for such a scheme, thanks to a $183,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Land Restoration Fund.
“This initiative is based on the same principles as other ecosystem service markets, like carbon credits and the new reef credits scheme,’’ she said. “A Cassowary Credit would be a quantified and certified ‘biodiversity unit’ that could be openly traded. And landholders could combine this with a carbon credit to increase the payments from their habitat restoration effort if they were interested.
“The end result would be a win for the environment, landholders and investors seeking to play a part in rainforest habitat improvements.”
The Cassowary Credits initiative builds on Terrain NRM’s involvement in the development of Reef Credits, which will generate income for farmers when they reduce nitrogen and sediment entering waterways and flowing to the Great Barrier Reef. The first Reef Credits are expected to be issued by the end of the year.
“Developing ecosystem services markets is a new approach to valuing and protecting our environment in Australia,’’ Terrain NRM CEO Carole Sweatman said. “This exciting scheme aims to support landholders to restore land in the Wet Tropics region, through access to real and long-term payments from a broad range of sources.”