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Living Carbon grants - Frequently asked questions

About the funding opportunity

About the funding opportunity

What are the Living Carbon grants?

The NSW Government is investing $5 million in grants to support eligible landholders to participate in the carbon market. Living Carbon grants will be available in 3 regions in NSW:  

  1. the Riverina Local Land Services region
  2. the North Coast Local Land Services region
  3. the MidCoast Local Government Area.  

Living Carbon projects will focus on land suitable for the environmental planting pilot method under the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme, spotlighting the revegetation of habitats of iconic and threatened species, including koalas.

Living Carbon aims to demonstrate that carbon projects can deliver biodiversity co-benefits, which in turn can add value to the price of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) and/or a landholder’s business.  

In return for funding, grantees will commit to:

  • sharing information and data with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and the public
  • educating interested parties on their methodologies via case studies and demonstration sites,
  • building an evidence base around abatement activities conducted directly by landowners. This will also build evidence around any additional benefits realised from projects that improve local biodiversity. 
What is a carbon project?

In relation to our grant, a carbon project will be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) under the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme. These projects sequester carbon in vegetation through planting trees.  

Your environmental planting project must be registered with the Clean Energy Regulator before you apply for the grant.  

The ACCU Scheme operates as a baseline and credit model. You can earn Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) for your projects that sequester (store) carbon above a baseline level of carbon stored on your land. An ACCU is issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) sequestered by a registered project. 

What is an Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU)?

Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) are a financial product created and issued by the Clean Energy Regulator. They are tradeable units that can be sold for income or retained to offset one's own emissions. 

What types of projects are eligible for this grant?

To be eligible for this grant, you must have an Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme registered carbon project with a planting area between 10 and 200 hectares within one of the 3 eligible regions in NSW. Projects must aim to provide habitat for iconic or threatened native species or threatened ecological communities. 

Which areas of NSW are eligible for grant funding?

The eligible regions for funding are the Riverina Local Land Services (LLS), the North Coast Local Land Services (LLS), and the MidCoast Local Government Area (LGA). 

To check whether your property address is in one of the two eligible regions, the Riverina and the North Coast, you can look up your property on the Local Land Services region website

To check whether your property is within the MidCoast Local Government Area, enter your property address on the Office of Local Government NSW website

You can also contact the MidCoast Council or confirm that your rate notice comes from them.

Alternatively, you can contact the on-ground support partner in your region to confirm if your property is eligible. Find their details on our website

Which Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme method is eligible under this grant and why?

The environmental planting pilot method is the only Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme method currently eligible under this grant.

This method:

  • is designed specifically for landholders to implement carbon projects themselves, without the need for industry consultants
  • requires landholders to register projects in their own name, so they maintain control of the carbon credits earned
  • simplifies project registration and crediting processes
  • has straightforward monitoring and reporting processes
  • introduces easier ways to sell ACCUs to the Australian Government.

Please note that we may add other methods to the eligibility list in the future, but this will be at the NSW Government’s discretion. 

Isn't the environmental planting pilot method going to end later this year?

To register a project under the Australian Government’s Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme, you must use one of their standard methods. By law, the Minister approves these methods for a 10-year period, after which they expire and can’t be used. Typically, if a method has been popular and successful, an updated version will be developed and approved before the previous method expires.

The Living Carbon grant program requires carbon projects to be registered as environmental plantings pilot projects under the Environmental Plantings method, formally the Reforestation by environmental or mallee plantings FullCAM method. This method is currently scheduled to sunset on 30 September 2024 and there is no equivalent method available.  

The Australian Government is working on an equivalent method that will soon be available. Until a new method is approved, there may be a period after 30 September 2024 when no suitable method is available.  

If you are interested in using the environmental plantings method soon, and particularly if you want to apply for a Living Carbon grant, it is recommended that you register your carbon project as soon as possible.

Note: The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) will not be able to approve carbon project applications under the Environmental Plantings method after 30 September 2024. They also require 90 days to process applications. Therefore, if you don’t submit your application by the end of June 2024, you may not get it approved under that method. Please contact the CER if you need further information. 

How much grant funding is available in total?

A total of $5 million of funding is available under the Living Carbon grants. If you are successful, you will receive up to $200,000 (excl. GST) for your project. You are expected to provide co-funding either through direct funding or in-kind contributions. There is no minimum amount of co-funding.

The total grant funding amount will be split across the eligible regions to ensure a diversity of project locations. Once funding for a region is exhausted, there is no guarantee that additional funding will be allocated. Grants will be approved on a first-come-first-served basis, so it is recommended that you submit your application as soon as possible. 

What do I need to deliver if I am awarded a grant, and by when?

You must complete all the grant-funded components of your project within 18 months of the funding deed being signed.  

The components you will need to complete will include:

  • a completed planting project in line with your endorsed planting plan, targeting native, iconic, or threatened Australian species or threatened ecological communities
  • a registered and certified Environmental Account with Accounting for Nature (AfN)
  • evidence that the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) has approved your first project report after your planting is completed
  • mandatory communication activities to promote your project
  • any infrastructure (like fencing) and other outcomes outlined in your application.

Your registered Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme project is directly managed by the Clean Energy Regulator and will be delivered outside of and beyond the lifetime of our grant. 

Will there be an information session I can attend to find out more about this funding opportunity?

There is a pre-recorded information session available. Alternatively, our on-ground support partners may host information sessions in each region. We recommend you speak with your region's listed Local Land Services or Council contact.  


Who is eligible for funding?

To be eligible you must be:

  • a private landholder who is the proponent of the carbon project.
  • an Aboriginal or Traditional Owners group that owns or has legal right to the land and who are the proponent of the carbon project
  • public land managers may be considered for inclusion following discussion with Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and pre-approval to apply. NSW National Parks are not eligible for these grants because they have access to funding for similar projects through a different initiative.

Note: The project proponent is the person that registers a carbon project, is responsible for carrying out a project and has the legal right to do so. 

Our organisation is based outside of NSW, but our proposed project location is in NSW. Can I still apply?

Yes, so long as you own the land on which the project will be delivered and are the proponent of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme registered project. Grants are only available for projects in the Riverina Local Land Services region, the North Coast Local Land Services region, and the MidCoast Local Government Area. 

Why do I need an environmental account and what is Accounting for Nature (AfN)?

This grant aims to demonstrate that carbon projects can deliver biodiversity co-benefits, which in turn can add value to the price of your carbon credits and/or marketing of your products. For buyers to pay a premium price for your carbon credits, or otherwise put a value on your biodiversity improvements, you will need to prove the improvements you have made. Preferably, buyers should also be able to compare like-for-like products, for example, improvements in fauna biodiversity between projects.  

Biodiversity improvements should be monitored, measured and reported using a trusted standard. The Accounting for Nature Framework (AfN) is a consistent standard for measuring, certifying and communicating changes in the condition of environmental assets of native vegetation, soils, fauna, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

To be eligible for a Living Carbon grant you must commit to using at least one of the specified methods from Accounting for Nature (AfN) to monitor one or more of the biodiversity outcomes that your project will achieve.  

What if I don't meet the eligibility criteria?

There may be grant opportunities for both small and larger projects that are more suitable for you in the future. Please register your interest to receive further information as it becomes available. 

I'm not sure if my project is eligible. Who can I ask?

As a first step, please visit Living Carbons grant to review the guidelines and other information, including links to the eligible ACCU Scheme method. You can contact an on-ground support partner in your eligible region for more information about the grants and guidance on completing a planting plan.  

Contact Accounting for Nature for more information and to get direct support. You can also contact us to get more information at [email protected]

Applying for a grant

What is the application process?

You must:

  • design a planting plan  
  • register your carbon project with the Clean Energy Regulator before applying for a grant.  

The application is a single-phase non-competitive process which consists of a combination of eligibility and merit criteria. You will need to submit your application via SmartyGrants using the link specific for your region.  

Once you submit your application, the assessor will assess your eligibility, and if you are deemed eligible, your application will then be assessed against a pass/fail merit criteria. If you are successful, you will be offered funding managed through a funding deed. 

How do I submit my application?

All applications must be submitted online via SmartyGrants, a secure online grant management tool. Each eligible region will have a specific link to SmartyGrants. Please ensure you submit using the link that is relevant to your region: North Coast Local Land Services, Riverina Local Land Services, and the MidCoast Local Government Area.

Regardless of when applications open in your region, all applications will close on Friday 6 December 2024 at 5 pm AEDT, unless funding is exhausted before that date. Feedback regarding your application will be delivered through the SmartyGrants portal.  

Do I have to use the planting plan template provided to be submitted with my application?

Yes, you must use the planting plan template that we have provided. The on-ground support partner for your region is available to assist you in preparing your plan.  

Your planting plan must also be endorsed by the on-ground support partner to confirm that the plan meets the requirements of the grant program and is suitable for your location. We have also provided a planting plan guide (Riverina Local Land Services region planting plan guide, MidCoast Local Government Area planting plan guide) to help you to correctly complete your planting plan.  

Is there any limit on the number of applications that can be submitted?

An applicant can submit only one application. If an application is deemed unsuccessful, a new application can address the deficiencies noted in the original application.

Applicants who have successfully sought Living Carbon grant funding cannot apply for additional funding under this grant. 

How do I know if my application has been received?

You will be notified by email via the SmartyGrants portal that your application has been received. This email will contain a unique application number you can quote if you have any questions about your application.  

If you do not receive this notification or have any other queries regarding your application, please email us at [email protected].  

Are there guidelines for developing and submitting my application?

Yes. Please refer to the grant guidelines, specifically section 6 for information on developing your application and section 7 for information on submitting your application. 

How will applications be assessed?

We will assess applications individually as they are submitted in SmartyGrants. We will assess your application against the eligibility and merit criteria outlined in sections 3 and 4 of the grant guidelines. They will be assessed on a pass/fail basis, and if you pass all eligibility and merit criteria, you will be offered a funding deed. 

If my application is unsuccessful, can I seek feedback?

Yes. If you are unsuccessful, we will advise you in writing with details on how to seek feedback on your application. An unsuccessful application will not disqualify you from applying for future rounds of funding.  

What happens if I miss the application deadline?

Unfortunately, the deadline is binding, and if you submit applications beyond the deadline, they will not be considered. There may be more grant opportunities in the future. 


Is there a requirement for co-contributions?

We expect you to commit to co-contribution through direct funding and/or in-kind contributions (for example, labour), at the time of your application submission. You cannot substitute third party contributions as a replacement for your required co-contribution. There is no minimum amount of co-contribution mandated, but you must ensure that your project can be successfully delivered over the lifetime of your grant.  

In-kind contributions are non-monetary resources where no cash has been transferred to your account(s) for your project. In your application, you should detail the assumptions or estimates of the dollar value equivalent of in-kind contributions, such as hourly costs associated with ground preparation or maintenance that you are doing yourself.  

In the budget table within the SmartyGrants application, you will need to add the co-funding and in-kind contribution values you will commit to for various activities required for the delivery of your project. 

Can I use other funding in addition to Living Carbon Grants for the same project?

You can use additional funding, deemed third-party funding, whether it be from another government agency or a charity, or a private party, to deliver the same project. This can include non-cash contributions such as volunteered time. You must clearly detail what this funding is in your application. Please note that we have the right to reduce NSW Government funding through Living Carbon if third-party funding is significant. This is at NSW Government discretion. You also cannot use third-party funding in place of your contributions, whether co-funding or in-kind contributions.  

Privacy and confidentiality

My application and registration will include personal information. How do you manage this information?

The NSW Government has legal obligations under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) in relation to the collection, storage, access, use and disclosure of personal information. When collecting your personal information, we will provide you with a privacy statement that details how this information will be managed in accordance with privacy law.

The SmartyGrants portal is a secure location for your project application information.  

More information

Where can I find information about other funding opportunities under the Primary Industries Productivity and Abatement Program?

You can register to be on our mailing list so we can keep you updated on future grant funding opportunities as they become available. 

I want to learn more about carbon projects. Who can I speak to?

If you are interested in starting a carbon project, we recommend that you start by reviewing information about the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) Scheme provided by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER). The NSW Government also provides advice through the On-Farm Carbon Advice program, or you can contact Local Land Services office.  

I can't find the answer to my question

If you have a question that you can’t find an answer to in the grant guidelines or in our frequently asked questions, please email us at [email protected]

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