The South West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils has released a tender invitation to undertake a socio-economic study into carbon farming in south west Queensland.
SWQROC executive officer Simone Talbot said the organisation hoped to have consultants engaged and ready to begin work on the study by the end of February, and for results to be concluded by May.
"Obviously we're keen for the study to wrap up as quickly as possible, considering it being in the lead-up to a federal election but while I say that, we also want the study to be credible and to be done well," she said.
Ms Talbot said the study aimed to uncover any negative impacts that the carbon farming industry may be having on south west communities.
"South west Queensland hosts a large number of carbon farming projects and certainly it's acknowledged that those projects bring benefits to local communities and the region more generally, but the aim of the study is to also understand what some of the disbenefits might be as well.
"This is based on the fact that there has been some evidence from landholders and groups in the community suggesting that the projects result in land not being managed as well as it has been in the past, in terms of pests and weeds, and also the risk of bushfires.
"Certainly, the carbon farming industry is something that the SWQROC totally supports but it is a fairly new industry and it is emerging with pace in the south west, so the idea of the study is to understand and quantify what the benefits are but also better understand and quantify what some of the negative impacts are."
"I think there's recognition that the industry is here to stay and if anything, it's only going to grow."
Ms Talbot drew correlation between the carbon farming boom and the coal seam gas developments in the region.
"I suppose it's similar to the growth of the CSG in and around the Surat Basin," she said.
"It emerged relatively quickly, and obviously it brought a lot of economic prosperity to the region, but at the same time, because of the rapid growth and the aggregate number of projects, there were also some unintended consequences as well."
The SWQROC are committed to the funding of the study, but have also received support from the federal government and a strong interest from the state government and the Carbon Market Institute.
It is hoped that the tender invitation will attract responses from consultants who will then go out into the communities and speak with landholders about their concerns regarding carbon projects in the region.
Also read: Carbon farming hits major milestone
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