This week, the Australian parliament has potentially altered the course of conservation by creating a voluntary biodiversity market. The passing of the government’s Nature Repair Bill has the ability to stimulate private investment by rewarding landowners, philanthropists, First Nations people and businesses for improving and investing in the environment.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is cautiously optimistic about the opportunity presented by the new legislation.
“The devil is always in the detail,” said AWC CEO, Tim Allard. “We will be particularly interested in how the methodologies are developed, and we are keen for assurance that high levels of integrity are applied when quantifying the measurement of biodiversity.”
“It is critical that the nature repair market is accessible to all landholders, and it should also support conservation efforts to not only protect, but also maintain, healthy biodiversity in our landscapes,” Allard said.
AWC supports the amendments made by the Greens to exclude offsetting from this legislation as without the detail ready to support this approach the door would have been left open to in-substantive progress and greenwashing. AWC also applauds the amendments proposed by Senator Pocock to create an investment strategy for biodiversity conservation programs; and implement the recommendations of the Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures.
“Australian Wildlife Conservancy strongly supports the concept of biodiversity credits and the encouragement this provides to commercial enterprises to restore and protect our unique Australian landscapes and wildlife. However, science needs to underpin the approach and strong frameworks need to be in place to monitor and measure,” Allard said.
“Government reform of the EPBC Act needs to continue at pace and further alignment of State and Federal approaches is key. We are one continent, facing the same extinction crisis and yet currently there are a myriad of regulations on land use, environment protection and species translocations that tie up valuable conservation resources.
“We were gratified by the communique from the last meeting between State and federal Environment Ministers which is indicating greater alignment nationally,” Allard said. “To achieve true national impact intense collaboration is required by all levels of government, conservation organisations, First Nations communities, commercial enterprises and philanthropists.”
The passing of the Nature Repair Bill is a critical step forward in unlocking the critical funding needed for protecting and restoring the Australian landscape. The opportunity is for continued reform to further improve investment, ensure adequate environment protection laws are in place – and enforced – and that there is ongoing prioritisation of threatened species and the threats they face.