In Australia, climate change and biodiversity are largely dealt with independently in policy, legislation and regulation, as is resourcing initiatives to tackle either challenge. Australia has been identified as a global extinction hotspot and serial under-performer in conserving biodiversity, as well as in setting and reaching emissions reductions targets.
Biodiversity and climate are inextricably linked. The loss of biodiversity exacerbates climate change by reducing nature's ability to absorb and store atmospheric greenhouse gases. Ongoing climate change exacerbates biodiversity loss by reducing the suitability of climatic niches and driving the disappearance of habitats. In Australia, this is most clearly observed in our recent track record of land clearing and high-emissions forest management, which lead to biodiversity losses and are responsible for 25 per cent of total human-induced or anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally.
In addition to fixing these large and obvious policy perversities that drive emissions and biodiversity loss, there is an exciting set of opportunities to contribute to GHG emission reduction and sequestration targets through Country, culture and nature-based solutions. Provided that such actions support, and are not in lieu of, ambitious emission and fossil-fuel reductions, ambitious land and ocean-based actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore ecosystems have co-benefits for climate mitigation, potentially providing over a third of GHG emissions reductions and atmospheric carbon removal required under the Paris Agreement. In Australia, these include actions as diverse as regenerative and Traditional farming and fire practices, urban forests, feral herbivore control and wetland rejuvenation.
Professor Brendan Wintle, Professor of Conservation Ecology, School of Ecosystem and Forest Science
Dr Georgia Garrard, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability
Dr Rachel Morgain, Senior Research Fellow, Regional Planning