Achieving a balance in nature between sources and stores of carbon (carbon sinks) is critical to addressing climate change. And the restoration and rehabilitation of important carbon sinks (which absorb more carbon than they release) is key to WWF-Australia's strategy for realising a low-carbon future. Australia's forest and marine ecosystems are some of the richest carbon banks in the world, soaking up and storing huge volumes of carbon. Victoria's Central Highlands, for example, have been found to sequester around 1,900 tonnes of carbon per hectare – some of the highest rates in the world. It’s estimated that Australia also holds around 12% of the world's 'blue carbon' habitats – the vegetation in aquatic environments, including mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, that absorbs carbon. However, competing land uses, including unsustainable agriculture and coastal infrastructure, continue to threaten the important role these ecosystems can play in reducing carbon pollution and providing habitat for some of Australia's most precious species.

What we're doing

Mangroves in ocean creek= Cape Hillsborough National Park= surrounding Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
© Michèle Dépraz / WWF

Carbon farming at scale

WWF-Australia is working closely with government and industry to encourage carbon farming at scale. This includes giving incentive to farmers who introduce carbon farming activities that will provide additional ecosystem benefits, including improving water quality and biodiversity. WWF is helping to restore, rehabilitate and reforest areas across Australia that deliver important carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits. We're also actively exploring opportunities to test blue carbon methodologies.

Why it matters

Carbon pollution in Australia from deforestation and degradation is growing at an alarming rate. Net emissions in land use and forestry in the year to December 2015 were estimated to be almost double that of the previous twelve months. This comes at a time when Australia needs to be reducing carbon pollution in line with global efforts to keep global warming of 1.5°C within reach. A large part of the solution for Australia lies in the reforestation of cleared lands and the restoration of degraded habitat. Research for WWF-Australia has shown that forestry can deliver around 20% of the carbon sequestration needed to put Australia on the pathway to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. If carried out properly, these efforts will also deliver important benefits to native plants and animals, as well as providing important regional employment opportunities.