Land use

Dr Sara Bice

Dr Sara Bice, Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, talks about her new book "Responsible Mining".

"Responsible Mining " - Is it an oxymoron or is it possible?

Dr Sara Bice talks social licence

Need for understandable data on increasing prevalence of unconventional gas and its impact on sedimentary basins

The BZE team talks to Dr Sara Bice with a history of journalism, sociology and now research fellow at Melbourne School of Government, University of Melbourne. 

Dr Sara Bice spoke of the need to create a regulatory basis and need for management of underground resources considering sedimentary basins comprise to a great extent  Australia's primary energy and water for agriculture and general rural population needs - in particular relating to CSG. This will have major effects on environmental economy and communities.  There is of course a need for a baseline for the effects of CSG and fracking in particular and with a moratorium such as that in Victoria.  The growth in CSG wells in Queensland alone has amounted to possibly 40,000 from 3000 in 2003! There is in particular a need for a better connection between University research, industry and policy makers and for the use of social media to provide a strong platform and despite for example, AGL giving the reasons for withdrawal as being financial with no mention relating to the power of protests. Reference to  AGL and "the license to operate" was also made by Green's Jeremy Buckingham. Is "social license" controlled by companies?

(Summary written by BZE volunteer Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

Coal seam gas debate is more than hot air: Did community opposition have a role in AGL’s decision to quit exploration of natural gas?

The Sustainable Sensibility - Blog by Sara Bice

Sara Bice on The Conversation

Do mining companies have a "social licence" to operate?

Dr Sara Bice Awarded Research Fellowship

Colin Seis - Farmers & Regenerative Agricultural

This show was broadcast on 17 November 2014

Col Seis Bio on Winona from Peter Hill on Vimeo.

Colin Seis is the inventor of the Regenerative Agricultural practice of Pasture Cropping. Col tells the story of the history of his family's farming enterprise from the 18 Hundreds to the present. His journey and experiences are documented, and how he came to the conclusion that it is critical for farmers to manage their native grasslands well, to achieve a goal of Profitable Regenerative Agriculture.

Beyond Zero Emissions recently released research - Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry - has found that the best part of half our greenhouse gas emissions come from land clearing, savannah burning and methane  from livestock. The discussion paper takes six farms as case studies of how to reduce or balance out these emissions by carbon sequestering plants, cell grazing and increasing soil richness. BZE Radio's Vivien Langford speaks to Colin Seis's farm Winona is at Gulgong NSW and he features in the report.
A shorter interview is with retired farmers Liz and Bruce Irvine who share with us their hard won insights once they stopped fighting with nature. The interviews cover many topics including the pioneering days, Aboriginal land management and the network of like minded farmers around the world who are leading the way with climate friendly practises.

Agriculture and forestry: hidden emissions, solution in plain sight

By Stephen Bygrave. RenewEconomy, 23-10-2014

The Zero Carbon Australia Land Use report can be downloaded here

Agriculture and forestry activities cover most of Australia, but increasingly, no longer our national consciousness. With most of our population now living in the cities, the remainder of the continent is often forgotten. The vast space between our coastlines is not empty, however. In fact most of it is farmed and managed for a wide variety of commercial purposes.

Beyond Zero Emissions has been working for several years on a major research project to look at reducing greenhouse emissions from the Land Use sector — agriculture and forestry. The result, released this week, is the Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Report.

The report shows a surprisingly high emissions profile for the Land Use sector, a sector that will be most impacted by climate change. But well-understood and already widely practiced strategies can move the sector a long distance towards the goal of zero emissions, helping to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The research proceeded from an initial investigation into where emissions in the sector come from, and at what magnitude. It turns out that various activities on the land including farming, forestry, and land-clearing, account for a huge proportion of our national emissions. This is masked in our national accounts, which splits the sector and offsets its emissions against reductions from revegetation of land.

By including all emissions from farming and land-clearing for agriculture, we derived a figure of 33 per cent of Australia’s annual emissions coming from land use practices.

The largest contributor was land clearing and re-clearing, followed by enteric fermentation (the production of methane by ruminant animals’ digestive systems, mainly cattle and sheep).

The report also found that carbon stocks in native forests are systematically underestimated by a factor of up to four or five, so that the climate impact of native forest logging is much higher than previously thought. If the report had been able to include an adequate appraisal of emissions from clearfell logging, total land use emissions would be higher still.

Native forest logging at Toolangi in Victoria's central highlands. From

Growing a better climate for farmers

A new discussion paper released today by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows how Australian farmers and foresters, two groups most vulnerable to climate change, can shift from having a negative to a positive impact on climate change.

“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” a joint project between BZE and The University of Melbourne's Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute provides a way for Australian farmers to reduce carbon pollution, and bring young people back to regional centres with new employment opportunities.

“Changing land use practices will slash carbon pollution and can provide an alternative income stream for farmers” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave.  

"The frequency and severity of the extreme weather we used to see were nothing compared to what we've seen in the past decade,” said John Pettigrew, former director of SPC Ltd. and current President of the Goulburn Valley Environment Group.

"Our farmers, given time, can adapt to changing conditions. We can reduce carbon emissions on-farm, move towards sustainable farming systems and even play a major role in producing renewable energy for our urban centres," said Mr Pettigrew.

The land use sector is one of the highest carbon polluting sectors of Australia’s economy - emissions may even be as high as 54% of total national emissions.

“Making changes to land management practices and technologies such as savannah burning, clearfell logging and land clearing for agriculture can turn that around,” said report researcher Andrew Longmire.

“Carbon storage in Australian native forests is underestimated by a factor of up to four or five, meaning that logging is having a much higher impact on the climate than previously recognised. Research has shown the native forests of south-east Australia can sequester 7,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide if left to recover from clearfell logging.  That’s equivalent to more than 10 years of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions” said Mr Bygrave.

“As the country braces for worsening drought and bushfires this summer, BZE is reaching out to farmers and other landholders to tackle climate change in a way that maximises the productivity and the health of their land, and breathes life back into their communities” said Mr Bygrave.

“Zero Carbon Australia Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry” is available on our website at:  High resolution images from the report can be downloaded at:

John Pettigrew and Stephen Bygrave are available for interview.

Media contact:

Genevieve Wauchope     0431 465 952

Dr Elaine Ingham

This show was broadcast on Mon 18th August 2014

Beyond Zero interviews Dr Elaine Ingham the problems of conventional industrial and organic farming methods for healthy soil and carbon sequestration.

Gerard Wedderburn-Bisshop talks about the ZCA Land Use Plan, listen to the podcast from 3CR program Freedom of Species. This interview originally aired on 7 October 2012. We would like to thank interviewer Kate Gracey from Freedom of Species and 3CR Community Radio for allowing us to reproduce their original content.

Dr. Elaine InghamGerard Wedderburn-Bisshop

Land Use & Carbon Farming in Australia

This show was broadcast on Mon 4th August 2014

Beyond Zero's Vivien Langford talks to South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright about climate change policy for what is known to be the driest state in the world's driest continent. The Nature Geoscience study found human activity has changed the concentrations of greenhouse gases and ozone in the atmosphere and could lead to annual rainfall declining by as much as 40 per cent in parts of southern Australia by the end of the century. Penny was elected to the Senate at the 2010 Federal election and took her seat on July 1, 2011.

Steven Hobbs is a 4th generation farmer in Kaniva, West Wimmera Victoria, runs Kanagulk Landcare Group and 2013 Victorian Landcare Award Winner for DEPI Regional Innovation in Sustainable Farm Practices Awards -Wimmera. He grows and uses biodiesel and works at intergrating renewable energy production with food production (farming crops & livestock) to develop a farm that derives its energy for production (fuel, fertiliser, etc) from the sun, rather than dwindling fossil fuel reserves, and at the same time harnessing atmospheric carbon dioxide to increase soil fertility.

Christine and Peter Forster are passionate about the role of carbon farming in solving climate change and run Ararat Landcare Group.

Vivien also interview two volunteers from South Korea and the Netherlands, working on the farm in Ararat.

Dr Elaine Ingham : Soil health and carbon-based lifeforms

Our soil teams with a multitude of of organisms which provide the necessary work for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally "who eats who") help determine the types of nutrient present in soil, its depth, and pH , and even types of plants which can grow.

We discuss the problems of conventional industrial and organic farming methods for healthy soil and carbon sequestration.

Dr Ingham is no longer working with the Rodale Institute which was stated in the introduction. Links for her work include: 

Also mentioned in interview are Camperdown CompostFarming Secrets, leading agronomist Bill Avery and ELA at Southern Cross University

Giles Parkinson and Ben Pearson on gas

BZE is publishing the Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Plan next year on the way land management can reduce emissions. We are replaying this interview with Soil microbiologist Walter Jehne from the Climate summit.
The other guests show what community campaigns there are against energy companies which flirt with gas. Giles Parkinson is the editor of Renew Economy and Ben Pearson is a Greenpeace Campaign manager. Don't be fooled by the advertising about  gas emitting half the CO2 of coal. It emits methane.It's a fossil fuel and we must leave it in the ground and press forward with renewables.

Giles ParkinsonBen Pearson

Kurri Kurri Gathering part 2

This is part 2 of a series of interviews recorded at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, at The Sunrise Project's:
Our Land, Our Water, Our Future: Beyond Coal and Gas Gathering 2013 from 18-20 May.

Featuring interviews from international activists against coal, coal seam gas (CSG) and local leaders in the community - Julie Lyford and Graeme Healey, Nicki Chirlian, Srinivas Krishnaswamy and Sredar Ramamurthy.

Julie Lyford, former shire mayor and spokesperson for the community-based organisation, Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance, and its chairman, Graham Healy, are fighting the state government renewing two large mining exploration licences in Gloucester. BGSP-Alliance was established in 2006 in response to the sudden and dramatic expansion of proposed coal and coal seam gas exploration and possible mining within the Gloucester Valley.

Megan Kuhn, Liverpool Plains farmer, Regional Coordinator for CSG Free North West, Member of the Bundella community. Nicky Chirlian from Save Our Soils Liverpool Plains. John Krey, Vice-President of the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association, who with the help of Environmental Defender's Office of NSW, recently won a three-year battle against Rio Tinto when a court overturned a state government-endorsed decision to allow it to dig an open-cut coalmine next to the town.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy, CEO, Vasudha Foundation, India.

Dr Sreedhar Ramamurthy from mines, minerals & PEOPLE (mm&P) India, a growing alliance of individuals, institutions and communities who are concerned and affected by mining.

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