Win-win: plan supports farmers to save Australian species – UQ News
A national plan to restore habitat on marginal farmland would tackle climate change, prevent species loss and put money in the pockets of farmers, according to a team of scientists led by the University of Queensland.
The team said their proposal would cost 0.1% of GDP each year, restore habitat and reach one-sixth of Australia’s nationally determined contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement.
UQ doctoral candidate Bonnie mappin said the incentive program would also put money in the hands of willing farmers through stewardship payments.
“This plan is a win-win for the environment and rural communities,” Ms. Mappin said.
“We have set a path to achieve 30% native vegetation cover of almost all of Australia’s degraded terrestrial ecosystems on marginal agricultural land.
“Marginal lands are ripe for revegetation.
“Farmers could continue to grow valuable crops on prime land, while rebuilding our environment and sequestering carbon.
Ms Mappin said the plan’s carbon pricing scenario – which matches current trends – would ensure the program is cost effective.
“We estimate that this restoration would cost around A $ 2 billion per year over 30 years, or a net present value of $ 41 billion over the life of the project,” she said.
“The cost would be offset by the expected carbon revenues of AU $ 12 billion to AU $ 46 billion.
“We estimate this would achieve 16% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emission reduction from Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030 for commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Co-author Professor Lesley Hughes, founding advisor to the Climate Council of Australia and director of WWF Australia, said the plan was essential, given that the health and diversity of Australia’s ecosystems are in decline.
“Our environment is under increasing pressure from land clearing, modified fire regimes and invasive species,” said Professor Hughes.
“Australia’s ecosystems are also extremely vulnerable to climate impacts, with extreme temperatures and fires set to become more frequent and severe.
“Australia’s environmental legislation and policies have failed to address these growing problems and there is a lack of adequate funding for environmental management, protection of endangered species and ecological restoration.
“Restoring native vegetation on marginal lands has enormous benefits for Australia’s biodiversity by improving the habitat and ecosystem services provided by our species and supporting jobs, especially in rural and regional communities. “
The research was published in the Journal of Applied Ecology (DOI: 10.1111 / 1365-2664.14008).
Image above left: Profitable restoration sites in severely degraded ecosystems across Australia, with examples of possible restoration sites or landscapes.