Queensland selects Palladium and GreenCollar for Reef Credit Scheme

04 October 2023 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

The Queensland government is looking to kick-start a credit trading scheme aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef, with consultancies Palladium and GreenCollar appointed to assist.

Global professional services firm Palladium has been selected by the Queensland government to assist in driving an incentive scheme aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

Similar to carbon offset programs but with a focus on water quality, farmers and landholders participating in the scheme can generate credits by engaging in projects to prevent destructive sediment run-off, which can then be sold and traded in the open market.

Queensland selects Palladium and GreenCollar for Reef Credit Scheme

“We see this as an important step in helping to grow this environmentally important market that will result in meaningful outcomes,” stated Palladium’s Australian lead Bernadette Howlett. “Palladium works globally to restore degraded landscapes including through the development of environmental markets – and we need to restore these landscapes to protect our environmentally, socially, and economically important Great Barrier Reef.”

As part of its assignment, the consultancy will work alongside technical experts from Griffith University to help restore eroded gullies on coastal grazing properties, which carry run-off with sediment and excess nutrients such as nitrogen to the ocean and then disturb the delicate balance of reef ecosystems. This in turn contributes to lower coral biodiversity, algal blooms, devastating bleaching events, and toxic crown-of-thorns outbreaks.

The Reef Credits which are generated through such rehabilitation projects – with each unit representing a kilo of dissolved inorganic nitrogen or 538 kilograms of fine sediment prevented from reaching the reef – can then be sold and on-traded in an independently regulated market to private sector investors and other organisations, including corporations wishing to meet their environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) agendas.

To help further propel the scheme and build confidence as the emerging market establishes itself, the government will also underwrite the projects via a $10 million ‘guarantee of purchase’ commitment should the credits fail to find a buyer. Meanwhile, the appointment of independent non-profit regulator Eco-Markets Australia will provide additional confidence and ensure integrity through the verification of project outcomes and a transparent registry system.

“The appointment of these organisations marks a significant step in our ongoing efforts to attract investment towards achieving cost effective and verifiable outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef,” stated Queensland environment and science minister Leanne Linard. “Reef Credits not only help to improve water quality and protect the reef, but the market is also providing new ways to value Queensland’s significant natural capital assets.”

Another positive impact consultancy, GreenCollar, which describes itself as the country’s largest environmental markets project developer and investor, will also continue supporting the scheme, including on land management initiatives which aim to reduce the use of fertilisers in sugarcane and banana plantations. Through these activities, GreenCollar has already generated and sold 40,000 Reef Credits to a mix of investors to date.