Published on   7th, May 2024
Read time 8 min

High-integrity carbon credits that deliver real benefits

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High-integrity carbon credits that deliver real benefits

When your business invests in a carbon project or buys a carbon credit, you assume you’re decarbonising — rightly so. The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) verifies carbon projects, issues Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) and monitors and enforces compliance.

However, over the last few years, the ACCU Scheme has been scrutinised for issuing low-quality credits from projects that have failed to deliver real emission reductions. Questions around the legitimacy of carbon credits have resulted in a loss of trust in the carbon market.

Much of the scepticism revolves around human-induced regeneration projects designed to regenerate land where vegetation has been suppressed, e.g. landholders managing the timing and extent of livestock grazing or ceasing mechanical or chemical destruction. Some projects delivered little to no revegetation, yet credits were still issued.

Low-quality carbon projects waste time, money and resources, and the scepticism they create undermines the carbon-offsetting projects that are making a difference. Businesses committed to decarbonisation must understand the difference between low-integrity and high-integrity carbon projects and choose a carbon partner that will deliver the offsets they promise.

The problem with low-integrity carbon credits

We will examine the differences between low-integrity carbon projects and high-integrity ones. But before we do so, it will help to understand how the ACCU works.

The Australian Government issues carbon credits to individuals or businesses undertaking certified activities, such as planting trees or refraining from clearing vegetation. One carbon credit is awarded for one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) stored or avoided. The credit can then be sold to businesses needing to offset a tonne of Co2-e they have put into the atmosphere.

The quality or value of these credits is now in question. Low-quality or low-integrity credits are from low-integrity projects.

The problems these projects include:

Fail to sequester carbon:

Low-integrity projects often don’t meet their number one objective – sequester carbon.

Fail to improve biodiversity:

When carbon offset projects don’t produce more plant growth, they also fail to improve environments for native species and wildlife.

Waste resources: 

Low-integrity carbon projects misallocate resources that could support effective carbon offset projects.

Distorts market: 

Although cheaper to produce, these projects offer higher returns but skew market dynamics away from true sustainability goals.

Loses trust:

Low-integrity carbon projects can damage the reputation of carbon offsetting.

Undermines climate goals: 

These projects lead to a false sense of progress, allowing for the continuation of high greenhouse gas emissions under the guise of offsetting.

Contributes to social injustice: 

Low-integrity carbon projects fail to consider the rights and well-being of local communities and Indigenous peoples.

What is a high-integrity carbon credit? 

So, how do you know what projects to invest in and which carbon suppliers to trust? When it became clear that some carbon projects were badly managed and did not deliver real benefits, the term ‘high-integrity carbon credits’ was used to describe ‘real’, ‘verifiable’ and ‘permanent’ credits.

Here’s a breakdown of each term:


‘Real’ means the project causes actual decreases in GHG emissions or real increases in GHG capture directly due to the project’s actions. These must be genuine and not result from exaggerated claims or creative accounting.


‘Verifiable’ refers to accurately measuring and independently confirming a project’s GHG reductions or sequestrations. The process must be transparent and based on standardised methods, ensuring the project’s credibility in its claims about its impact on GHGs.


‘Permanent’ indicates that the GHG reductions or sequestrations are long-lasting, with the expectation that the captured or avoided GHGs will not re-enter the atmosphere for a long duration, typically over 100 years.

Carbon offset projects must be real, verifiable and permanent to effectively contribute to Australia’s emissions reduction targets and global efforts to combat climate change. They must also hold environmental and social value and deliver real-world impact.

Why are high-integrity projects important? 

Credits from high-integrity projects like well-managed biodiverse reforestation and revegetation achieve the following:

Improve biodiversity

High-integrity carbon projects not only capture carbon but also bolster biodiversity. They support many plant and animal species and rehabilitate degraded lands to ensure resilient ecosystems.

Mitigate climate change

By restoring native vegetation and responsibly managing land, high-integrity carbon projects significantly reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, thereby addressing global warming.

Contribute to the community

High-integrity carbon projects integrate environmental health, economic viability, and social equity. Initiatives like Nativ Carbon’s prioritise local community involvement and Indigenous participation.

Ensure credibility

These projects ensure the credibility and verifiability of carbon credits, facilitating participation in a transparent carbon trading market and aiding compliance with regulatory emissions reduction requirements.

How Nativ Carbon ensures carbon integrity

Nativ Carbon takes a high-integrity approach. Our projects achieve real, verifiable, and permanent ACCUs. We meticulously plan projects to ensure adequate plant height and canopy coverage to achieve the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) standards for ACCU generation and compliance.

Our carbon projects are:

Unlike human-induced regeneration projects, we work on marginal farmland where no vegetation has occurred for many years. Vegetation and tree growth can be directly measured and linked to carbon storage as the project matures.


  • Quality checks: We monitor every 25ha of the project to ensure surface preparation and seedling planting comply with the reforestation execution plan.
  • Groundproofing: Manual plot-based work is carried out to ensure survivability and species diversity once the project has been implemented.
  • Survival monitoring: We monitor plant survival over the first two summers, which is critical for long-term viability.
  • Multi-spectral measuring: Drone technology with multi-spectral measurements to measure survivability and species diversity is employed for accurate reporting.


All Nativ Carbon projects adhere to a 99-year permanence period under CER’s Reforestation by environmental planting methodology. We utilise native species indigenous to the project areas, ensuring sustainability and resistance against harvesting incentives.

Community engagement and local economy reporting

Nativ Carbon contributes to the local economies where our projects reside. We record and report on energy and resources utilised for each project, including local expenditures on accommodation, food, repairs, supplies, and fuel usage. Last season, 25% of all our planting team contractors were Aboriginal staff and subcontractors, underscoring our commitment to local community engagement.
Through meticulous planning, implementation, and ongoing monitoring, we deliver high-integrity carbon offset projects aligned with global best practices and regulatory standards. Our projects contribute to the global effort against climate change, foster biodiversity, and support local communities.

With Nativ Carbon as a partner, you can be confident that your offsetting activity is impactful and trustworthy.