Understanding the social licence of carbon farming in the australian rangelands

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sustainability (Switzerland), 2022, 14, (1)
Issue Date:
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Carbon farming has expanded in Australia’s rangelands over recent years, incentivised under the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund. While this has largely been driven by economic benefits for landholders, the long-term viability of the carbon farming industry depends on its ability to obtain and maintain a social licence to operate in affected communities. Using a combination of survey, interview and focus group methods, involving key stakeholders in far-western New South Wales (NSW), this study reveals that the greatest threat to the social licence of carbon farming is the lack of confidence in governance related to policy complexity and uncertainty. Procedural fairness is a relative strength because of the involvement of trusted community members, and the trust-building strategies employed by the aggregators who recruit landholders to carbon farming. Perceptions of distributional fairness are strengthened by the benefits beginning to flow through rangeland communities, but are weakened by concerns around the equity of eligibility and the land management rules. A focus on participatory policy development, aligning rules with local values and local-scale trust building, is required in order to enhance the social licence for carbon farming in the NSW rangelands.
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