THE CSIRO has this month released an early version of a new biodiversity calculator, which aims to give producers an idea of how changes of land use are impacting the property’s biodiversity.
LOOC-B (Look bee) is follow on from the organisation’s carbon calculator LOOC-C, and gives a web-based calculation of habitat conditions and biodiversity persistence and analyses planning and monitoring of land management changes.
CSIRO’s Dr Cara Stitzlein unveiled the new tool to the Carbon Farmers of Australia conference in Albury this week.
She said the idea was to combine satellite and on-ground observations with the latest science and modelling to give producers an informed idea of the land’s potential for carbon farming and associated benefits – mainly in relation to biodiversity. Co-benefits are often used to sell carbon credits for a premium.
“It’s the integration of that data and modelling that gets us to an indicator of habitat condition for example,” Dr Stitzlein said.
She said the new calculator was not directly related to the biodiversity market created by the outgoing Coalition government.
“It is a science product but I believe if we were to apply the science in the biodiversity credit market than it would be a combination of the science on the economic leavers,” she said.
Learnings from LOOC-C
The LOOC-B calculator is a follow on from the carbon-based LOOC-C, which was created in 2019. Dr Stitzlein said the original aim was to give producers an idea of their potential to host a carbon project.
“We wanted an easy-to-use intuitive interface, where people can add a couple of details about the history of the farm, the enterprise and you select your area on the map,” she said.
“The results are displayed on these interactive cards and each gives you information about a method and how it is relevant what has been happening on that land.
“The card will give you an estimate of carbon sequestration potential, in tonnes per hectare, it will link you to the method details and will also link you to the co-benefits that are associated with making the land use change.”
Dr Stitzlein said since launching the calculator the organisation has learnt that the carbon market was still too complicated to have wide appeal to landholders.
“One of the most important things we learnt was that carbon credits were not enough to encourage people to enter the market and co-benefits matter,” she said.
“In the research that I did on this, the most important co-benefit was biodiversity. We’ve applied these learnings to LOOC-B biodiversity tool, responding to the need to quantify those biodiversity benefits.”
- CSIRO is expecting to publicly release the LOOC-B calculator in July but early registrations can be made on the website https://research.csiro.au/digiscape/digiscapes-projects/biodiversity-co-benefits-calculator/
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