governance and development

Reef Credit Scheme Governance

Eco-Markets Australia and its Board administers the Reef Credit Scheme, and Eco-Markets Australia acts as the Reef Credit Secretariat. The Secretariat is empowered to manage and oversee all aspects of the Scheme with support from Eco-Markets Australia’s Board and the Technical Advisory Committee.
The Reef Credit Secretariat’s role and responsibilities includes:

  • Managing or overseeing all Reef Credit Scheme processes and procedures
  • Issuing, approving and/or updating all Reef Credit documentation
  • Issuing guidance and interpretations related to the Reef Credit Scheme
  • Ensuring the integrity of the Reef Credit Scheme
  • Making decisions regarding the administration or operation of the Reef Credit Scheme, which may include input from the Technical Advisory Committee and Board.

The Technical Advisory Committee provides independent expertise on the methodology approval and modification process, selection of peer reviewers, compliance matters and related issues.

Reef Credit Scheme Development

The Reef Credit Scheme was conceived in response to the emerging consensus that a market mechanism to incentivise water quality improvements across catchments of the Great Barrier Reef was urgently needed. In 2017, natural resource management organisations, Terrain NRM and NQ Dry Tropics partnered with GreenCollar, an environmental markets investor, to guide the development of the Reef
Credit Scheme and serve as the Interim Steering Committee.  

The Queensland Government officially launched the Reef Credit Scheme in October 2017 as part of two reef water quality projects – the Wet Tropics and Burdekin Major Integrated Projects (MIPs) – with the intent to operate in all catchments of the Great Barrier Reef. Members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) have provided feedback and recommendations at all stages of the Reef Credit Standard and methodology development, as well as on the overall design of the Scheme and subsequent revisions. Funding to support the development of the Scheme, Governance and Registry was provided by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and Queensland Government.

Public Consultations

There are currently no public consultations underway.
Public consultations for the beta phase review of the Reef Credit Scheme has now closed.

Beta Phase Review 2021

The purpose of this review is to transition the Reef Credit Scheme from beta phase to fully operational.

The draft Reef Credit Standard and Guide v2.0, and supporting documents were open for public comment from 19 July 2021 to 18 August 2021. Stakeholders were invited to submit comments via the Public Consultation Feedback Form.

Review Paper

This document has been developed by Eco-Markets Australia with summary information of proposed revisions, based on a combination of experience operating the Reef Credit Scheme during beta phase and stakeholder input during this time:
• Proposed Revisions to the Reef Credit Scheme

Proposed Revisions

The review of the Reef Credit Scheme covers all elements of the Reef Credit Scheme. Revised or new versions of the following documents have been released for public comment:
• Reef Credit Guide
• Reef Credit Standard
• Project Crediting Procedures
• Reef Credit Methodology Approval Procedures
• Tool for the Demonstration and Assessment of Additionality in Reef Credit Projects

All submissions will be compiled and published on the website at the conclusion of the public consultation process. Please note that comments that include contact details, personally identifying or commercially sensitive information will not be published or otherwise disclosed.

Method for Accounting Reduction in Nutrient Run-off through Managed Fertiliser Application – Version 1.1

*Note: Section 5.5 of the method refers to contribution to export which reflects the proportion of DIN that is transported to the GBR based on project location. Contribution to export is a dataset generated by the Queensland Government. Please contact the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (Qld) at ReefCoordination@dnrme.qld.gov.au for access to the contribution to export dataset.

This methodology was submitted by the methodology developer to the Reef Credit Secretariat in June 2019. The methodology was subject to public consultation and peer review and as a result several revisions were made to the proposed methodology.

The Reef Credit Technical Advisory Committee (the TAC) considered the integrity of the process followed and, on 14 February 2020, confirmed that the methodology approval process had been properly followed and that the methodology had been assessed in accordance with the Reef Credit Standard and Guide. The revised methodology was then recommended by the TAC to the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee for approval.

The Committee’s recommendation was qualified in the particular matter of ‘accounting for uncertainty’ addressed by Section 4.1.7 and related sections of the Standard. The Committee held the view that the Paddock to Reef model used adequately addresses uncertainty without producing a numerical deduction (correction factor). A correction factor of ‘zero’ was therefore considered appropriate in this methodology based on the following:

• The Paddock to Reef model is the most scientifically robust model currently available.

• There is currently no technical mechanism available to calculate a useful numerical deduction (correction factor) for Paddock to Reef modelling outputs.

• The confidence in the outputs of the Paddock to Reef model is rigorously, qualitatively determined as a reflection of the attributes of input data.

• Because of the qualitative way in which the Paddock to Reef Projector currently determines confidence and the inability of the model to produce confidence intervals for the outputs, a correction factor greater than zero is therefore not required in this methodology in relation to use of the Paddock to Reef model.

The methodology was further revised in accordance with the TAC’s recommendation, and the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee approved this methodology on 11 March 2020.

Description of Method

The methodology quantifies the reduction in Dissolved Inorganic Nitrogen (DIN) lost from agricultural land through improved soil and nutrient management practices within the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The scope of this methodology includes reducing DIN loss through more efficient soil and nutrient management practices from agricultural enterprises including (but not limited to) sugarcane, bananas, grains and fodder. The methodology allows for a range of practice changes that lead to a reduction in DIN loss across the project area.

The methodology was developed by GreenCollar Group Limited.

Review Process

The methodology review process is set out in the Reef Credit Standard Schedule 5 and Methodology Approval Procedures.

The methodology developer submitted to the Reef Credit Secretariat (Secretariat) the methodology documentation and nominated three peer reviewers. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) selected two peer reviewers from those proposed. The two peer reviewers selected are experts of high standing in their respective fields. One is a local soil scientist with expertise in tropical landscape processes linking land management, movement of nutrients, and offsite water quality. The other is an international carbon specialist with extensive experience evaluating the climate benefit of land use activities, carbon sequestration and carbon emission avoidance both on national and project-scales for forestry and agriculture projects. The peer reviewers conducted their assessment of the proposed methodology over a period of 30 days (from June/July-August 2019).

The peer review process ran in parallel with a public consultation process. The Secretariat posted the draft methodology on the www.reefcredit.org website for public consultation for a period of 30 days (from 4 June-4 July 2019), and the Secretariat also sent out a notice via email to key stakeholders on its mailing list informing them of the opportunity to comment. The Secretariat received a total of 123 comments on the draft method, from eight organisations and agencies including government, the agricultural industry, environmental non-government organisations, and research institutions.

The methodology developer responded to the peer reviewer findings and public consultation comments by incorporating revisions and/or justifications for the proposed approach. The peer reviewers then considered the methodology developer’s responses to the peer reviewer comments and provided advice on the extent to which the methodology developer’s revisions adequately responded to the matters raised.

The revised methodology was provided to the TAC to confirm the integrity of the process followed. The TAC confirmed that the methodology approval process had been properly followed and that the methodology had been assessed in accordance with the Reef Credit Standard and Guide. The revised methodology was then recommended by the TAC to the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee for approval.

The Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee approved the methodology on 11 March 2020.

Documentation

Methodology Public Comment Version

Methodology Public Comments and Responses

Methodology Scientific Peer Review Comments and Responses

Methodology Approved Version

Method of Accounting for Reduction in Sediment Run-Off through Gully Rehabilitation Version 1.4

*Note: Section 5.5 of the method refers to contribution to export which reflects the proportion of fine sediment that is transported to the GBR based on project location. Contribution to export is a dataset generated by the Queensland Government. Please contact the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (Qld) at ReefCoordination@dnrme.qld.gov.au for access to the contribution to export dataset.

This methodology was submitted by the methodology developer to the Reef Credit Secretariat in October 2019. The methodology was subject to public consultation and peer review and as a result several revisions were made to the proposed methodology.

The Reef Credit Technical Advisory Committee (the TAC) considered the integrity of the process followed and, on 29 October 2020, confirmed that the methodology approval process had been properly followed and that the methodology had been assessed in accordance with the Reef Credit Standard and Guide. The revised methodology was then recommended by the TAC to the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee for approval.

The Committee’s recommendation was qualified in relation to ‘matters of best available knowledge’, noting the provisions of Section 4.9 of the Standard relating to periodic review or revision of methodologies. It was recognized that the approaches in the Gullies Methodology relating to managing uncertainty, the veracity of baseline trends, and boundary definitions for projects are at the edge of knowledge and are likely to evolve as knowledge is gained from project implementation.

The Committee made two further observations connected to the methodology for the Secretariat’s consideration in the review of the beta phase of the Reef Credit Scheme:

1. In relation to the leakage, it was suggested that the Standard be adjusted to confine the scope of leakage to Great Barrier Reef catchments, as any changes in land management activities outside the catchment will not affect the reef or Reef Credit Scheme’s accounting. Methodologies should also be able to rule out accounting for market-effects leakage where the market-effects of a project’s activities within the Great Barrier Reef catchment are insignificant. For example, destocking beef cattle within a property may have a market effect of increasing stocking elsewhere, but given the extent of cattle grazing across Australia any leakage within the Great Barrier Reef catchment is likely de-minimus, and does not need to be accounted. This adjustment that allows market-effect leakage to be deemed de-minimus should be revisited as best available knowledge evolves.

2. In relation to Peer Review, it was noted that in this case the Peer Reviewers were asked to respond to the Developer’s response to their initial review comments. This proved highly beneficial, especially given the complexity of the method, and noting that the outcomes of the reiteration around specific matters settled those matters as: 1) being agreed and incorporated, 2) not accepted by the Developer for sound reasons, or 3) a best judgement on approach adopted pending future review based on project implementation experience. This additional iteration was very valuable in this instance and may be applicable to other new methods. It was therefore suggested that the Peer Review methodology be revisited to ensure that this flexibility is supported for future methods if required.

On the basis of the TAC’s recommendation, and subject to the qualifications and observations it noted, the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee approved this methodology on 7 November 2020.

Description of Method

This methodology describes the approach to achieve and quantify reductions in Fine Sediment (FS) from rural landscapes through gully rehabilitation, within the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The scope of this methodology includes the design and implementation of landscape rehabilitation measures to reduce the amount of sediment loss from gully erosion. Gully rehabilitation interventions may include:

1) Engineered rock-chute head control structures;

2) Engineered grade control structures;

3) Gully reshaping and capping with rock or mulch, or both;

4) Gully catchment drainage diversion structures (contour-banks and flow-spreaders);

5) Soil amelioration (i.e. with gypsum and other non-toxic chemical stabilisers);

6) Revegetation of treated gullies and gully catchments;

7) Grazing management in treated gullies and gully catchments;

8) Other interventions undertaken to rehabilitate gullies which are fully described by the proponent in the Gully Rehabilitation and Management Plan.

The methodology was developed by GreenCollar Group Limited.

Review Process

The methodology review process is set out in the Reef Credit Standard Schedule 5 and Methodology Approval Procedures.

The methodology developer submitted to the Reef Credit Secretariat (Secretariat) the methodology documentation and nominated three peer reviewers. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) selected two peer reviewers from those proposed. The two peer reviewers selected are experts of high standing in their respective fields. One is a geomorphologist with expertise in the evaluation of environmental flows, understanding nutrient processes in sediments that lead to algal blooms, and optimization of stream management decisions. The other is an international carbon specialist with extensive experience evaluating the climate benefit of land use activities, carbon sequestration and carbon emission avoidance both on national and project-scales for forestry and agriculture projects. The peer reviewers conducted their assessment of the proposed methodology over a period of 30 days (from October-November 2019).

The peer review process ran in parallel with a public consultation process. The Secretariat posted the draft methodology on the www.reefcredit.org website for public consultation for a period of 30 days (from 15 October – 14 November 2019), and the Secretariat also sent out a notice via email to key stakeholders on its mailing list informing them of the opportunity to comment. The Secretariat received a total of 221 comments on the draft method, from eight organisations and agencies including government, environmental non-government organisations, and research institutions.

The methodology developer responded to the peer reviewer findings and public consultation comments by incorporating revisions and/or justifications for the proposed approach. The peer reviewers then considered the methodology developer’s responses to the peer reviewer comments and provided advice on the extent to which the methodology developer’s revisions adequately responded to the matters raised.

The revised methodology was provided to the TAC to confirm the integrity of the process followed. The TAC confirmed that the methodology approval process had been properly followed and that the methodology had been assessed in accordance with the Reef Credit Standard and Guide. The revised methodology was then recommended by the TAC to the Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee for approval.

The Reef Credit Interim Steering Committee approved the methodology on 7 November 2020.

Documentation

Methodology Public Comment Version

Methodology Public and Scientific Peer Review Comments and Responses

Methodology Approved Version

Methodology Explanatory Statement