8 Dec 2021
5 BIG IDEAS: HOW AUSTRALIA CAN TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE WHILE RESTORING NATURE, CULTURE AND COMMUNITIES
Australia’s plan to relies heavily on unproven technologies to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, among other things.
But we already have solutions based in restoring nature and Country. In fact, nature-based solutions can deliver one third of promised global cuts in emissions.
Conservation Futures', which brings together expertise from across Australia, reveals how we can make this happen using proven approaches including:
- Indigenous-led work on Country
- keeping our existing forests and woodlands safe from land clearing
- restoring ailing ecosystems
- simplifying access to carbon markets and
- mapping ways of working with nature rather than technology to store emissions.
Here are five big ideas to store emissions while benefiting communities, our economy and our natural and cultural heritage.
1. Seek Indigenous leadership to heal damaged Country
The catastrophic bushfires of the 2019-2020 summer have driven repeated calls to return to Indigenous leadership in managing Country to prevent similar disasters.
Indigenous-led and can make Country safer and keep carbon-storing forests and ecosystems intact. Indigenous management of Country could be integrated in national and state .
This shift will mean a deeper respect for Indigenous leadership and a willingness to learn from Indigenous relationships with .
have been , helping both Country and its people. Expanding these programs into new places – including cities – would build on their success.
This will require re-framing our relationship and attitudes to Country, removing policy barriers, enabling access to Country, restoring water rights and increasing investment. If we can get this right, it would change the nature of our relationship with Country and provide tangible benefits toward national , and goals.
For instance, theuses Indigenous management to restore Turraburra, a large drought-affected degraded grazing property in Queensland.
Iningai custodians are reintroducing cultural burning and restoring artesian waterways and sacred rock waterholes as part of measured emissions-reduction projects on Turraburra.
In response, their Country is thriving, and life is returning to the land. These custodians have told us having Country back means healing for the whole community as well as for Country.
2. Look after what we have
The easiest and cheapest way to both reduce and store emissions is by keeping the vegetation we still have. Australia’s plants – from deserts to forests to ocean – play a vital role.
Australia has committed to .within nine years, but this seems highly optimistic given
Restoration helpsand than cutting down forest.
In our heating climate, trees keep local areas significantlyand . Forested watersheds reduce the cost of providing . And intact vegetation boosts resilience to floods and , and stops into rivers.
To stop clearing, tighter environmental laws are key. The scathing 2021 shows it fails to stop and proposes a more strategic approach to sustainable development.of Australia’s key
We could also extend stewardship and landcare programs, so they involve more landholders and regional communities. For instance, thehas brought together scientists, landowners, natural resource managers, communities and government to restore wetlands across 41 sites, with replanting, fencing, environmental water, weed and pest control.
3. Map pathways to use nature and culture to get to net zero
We need a clear collective vision for which embeds , culture, community and nature as vital methods of cutting and storing emissions. This vision would support action where it’s most needed, and .
Under this vision, we could work to restore habitat connections across catchments and landscapes. We could embed culture and nature-based emissions reduction in community development,, adaptation and catchment management strategies.
What does this look like? Consider Sydney’s coastline, where researchers and community members plan to bring a vital seaweed species back to its original range.
This species, crayweed, supports abalone and rock lobster, two of Australia’s most valuable fisheries. The team is working to restore crayweed forests destroyed by urbanisation and sewage.
4. Measure the things we value to demonstrate success
We urgently need better projects and programs deliver the benefits they claim. Robust monitoring also helps create premium carbon products.to ensure
Accountability must be culturally appropriate and measure the most important benefits for each project. demonstrates that cultural, social and biodiversity benefits must be .
Requiring non-Indigenous projects to report robustly on cultural, social and biodiversity benefits would ensure projects deliver for Indigenous people, the wider community, and the ecosystems on which we all depend.
Savanna burning in Northern Australia has been a to assessing benefits have to sequester carbon through both government and voluntary markets.for renewing culture and Country.
Indigenous groups are now leading conversations on extending this success to other places and ecosystems, such as through an Indigenous-led southern forest fire credits scheme under development.
5. Simplify access to carbon markets and incentive schemes
At present, the methods we use to produce high-quality carbon credits through government emissions reduction schemes are often costly, complex and time-consuming. In short, they require specialist expertise to navigate.
These challenges act as a barrier, particularly for small organisations, and are inequitable for less resourced communities.
If we, more small projects could embark on emission reduction. That means offering accessible methods of assessing projects, , and investing in Indigenous and community-based agencies to provide support.
New incentive schemes to could also be a game-changer, like retrofitting or the City of Melbourne’s which enables property owners to partner with the city to deliver vertical greening, convert carparks into gardens, and build .
If we draw together methods of producing carbon credits across catchments, land and seascapes, we could provide pathways into a market likely to boom. In Victoria, a team of researchers, government, industry, landholders and Traditional Owners atare restoring degraded coastal wetlands by fencing and weeding.
To date, this program has restored 130 hectares of saltmarsh in Western Port Bay and Gippsland, home to some of Victoria’s most endangered birds, frogs and plants. The team is now planning to work with landholders and Traditional Owners to map priority areas for restoration along the entire Victorian coastline.
This article was originally featured in. WWF-Australia would like to acknowledge and thank the authors of this article: , , , and .