Prove the concept
Paraway Pastoral Company (“Paraway”) – one of Macquarie Asset Management’s operating companies – manages 4.4 million hectares of farmland across Australia, with the capacity to raise over 220,000 cattle and 250,000 sheep, and has been active in experimenting with nature-based carbon and biodiversity solutions.
This saw him become one of the first participants in programs run by the Australian Government to explore how multiple on-farm land management practices can be incentivized to increase biodiversity outcomes and diversify and strengthen farm income without losing productivity or production.
One such initiative is the Agriculture Stewardship Package, which explores the benefit of “stacking” financial payments for environmental stewardship programs in addition to those received for carbon reduction activities in the under the Emissions Reduction Fund. Still being tested, the package could help demonstrate the importance of the interconnected nature of the work needed to improve biodiversity, reduce carbon levels and maintain productivity at the same time. Paraway was among the first farmland managers to have a project approved by the program.
“Stacking is appealing because it seeks to balance capital invested in carbon removal strategies with the preservation and, in some cases, restoration of biodiversity. We must ensure that carbon offset programs do not inadvertently solve one problem but promote another through the destruction of biodiversity; it is necessary to understand the benefits and ways to achieve both. It’s a space that is both complex and interesting, and Paraway has played a leading role in exploring it – both directly and by working with small and medium-sized pastoral enterprises,” says O’Leary.
Paraway also continues to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund itself as part of an Australian government initiative exploring how to reduce the emissions intensity of beef cattle production by improving the way herds are managed.
The company is also exploring the opportunities presented by new techniques such as the use of seaweed-based feed supplements to inhibit the production of climate-damaging methane emissions by ruminant livestock, and has invested in an Australian cultivation company ecotechnology. Sea Forest. As well as reducing a herd’s climate footprint by reducing methane production, because metabolic gas conversion uses one-fifth of feed energy, limiting it can also increase productivity with reduced feed – creating more food with less environmental impact.4
“Sea Forest is a great example of how we are looking for opportunities up and down the supply chain – where there is the greatest opportunity to effect change – and investing in testing and develop them for the potential benefit of both our own operations and the wider industry,” says O’Leary.