Two of the country’s leading environmental organisations, Greening Australia and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)–Australia, today announced a strategic partnership galvanised during the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season, with the primary goal to mainstream innovative, nature-based and scalable solutions that will build nature’s resilience in a changing climate.
The partnership will experimentally test, validate and scale practical climate-ready restoration approaches nationally, designed by eminent scientists across Australia. In an example of just one of the series of innovative projects within the partnership, Greening Australia and WWF-Australia will employ eco-evolutionary approaches to identify ‘super seed’ that has enhanced climatic and fire-tolerant traits to replant trees in bushfire-affected areas.
Climate-ready restoration activity will be experimental in nature, informed by existing scientific and Indigenous ecological knowledge, and delivered using scientific methodology that sets and tests hypotheses through data collection, modelling and on-ground experimentation. Importantly, these science-led projects will be tested for their feasibility and ability to mainstream on-ground delivery across the restoration sector.
The two organisations have committed a total of $20 million in initial climate-ready restoration projects and are calling for an additional $30 million in funding from the Australian public and private sectors to enable delivery of the total proposed program of work.
Brendan Foran, CEO, Greening Australia said, “We are now living with recurring natural disasters across Australia that are affecting people and nature in ways and at scales that we have not previously witnessed – including the devastating bushfires of 2019-2020. Our partnership for Climate-ready Restoration is designed to improve the long-term resilience of the Australian environment in the face of climate change. It is focused on biodiversity and ecosystem restoration, with an emphasis on supporting communities and strengthening the economy. To help us prepare for and adjust to both the current effects of climate change and the predicted future impacts, we urgently need to mainstream new, practical, nature-based solutions. This is the driving mission of our partnership.”
Dermot O’Gorman, CEO, WWF-Australia said, “This program is not business as usual. We are already witnessing the impacts of a changing climate and need to urgently think and act differently. Science and innovation that translates into on-ground delivery are at the heart of our climate-ready approach. Many of the projects that will be funded by this program will trial innovative technology or science-led approaches that aim to accelerate delivery, amplify data collection and fast-track outcomes.”
“This partnership is an example of how the environmental sector can lead collaboration between other strategic partners, universities, business, government and the community and find new ways to work together to ensure the Australian environment is climate-ready and our flora, fauna and communities are resilient to the changing climate,” O’Gorman continued.
Adrian Turner, CEO Fire and Flood Resilience initiative, Minderoo Foundation and one of the first partners to come onboard said, “We are pleased to be part of this program, to pilot new ways to regenerate landscapes in Australia’s most vulnerable regions so that they can be more resilient against fires. It is essential that we work together across sectors to optimise our environments so that we can reduce the devastating impact of these climate induced extreme weather events in the future. The Climate-ready Restoration program is directly aligned with the Healthy Landscapes Mission, which is part of a national blueprint to reduce the harm caused by fires and floods and lift resilience by 2025.”
Climate-ready interventions to improve resilience
The partnership will centre around three key action areas:
Activity will combine the strengths of both organisations and build on existing bushfire recovery, and flora and fauna conservation and restoration programs. An initial suite of projects, led by senior restoration experts from both organisations, will commence across south-eastern Australia to help bushfire affected regions recover from the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires, with subsequent Climate-ready Restoration projects to follow.
Example activities include:
Enhancing resilience through the creation of insurance populations of flagship threatened species through revegetation (South Australia being the first of multiple locations across the country)
The project will seek to understand how we spread the risk of climate change to our threatened species by creating new, ‘insurance’ populations of flagship threatened species in different geographic locations. The program will build 1000ha of new habitats in climate-ready, ‘safer’ locations for future rewilding. It will also capture the expected benefits for other species at these locations and advocate for changes to threatened species recovery plans and other priorities as the project identifies what works (and what doesn’t) in building climate-readiness.
Maintaining ecosystem services using climate adjusted seeds (Victoria and SE NSW)
Many climate and bushfire-affected areas occur in our water catchments, and the loss of vegetation in these areas can have considerable flow-on effects for people’s water supply. The program will trial the use of climate and fire-adjusted seeds in restoration to determine whether these trees will have increased resilience in a changing climate, and in turn protect our water supplies.
Panda Labs – Innovation for Climate-Ready Impact
We need to think outside the norm. We are bringing in WWF’s award-winning Panda Labs approach to innovation, which focuses on accelerating and amplifying solutions to wicked environmental and social problems. We will bring together experts from diverse fields – fire ecology, artificial intelligence, reforestation, climate forecasting, etc – to establish hypotheses and prioritise potential solutions. We will rapidly test hypotheses to select novel approaches that perhaps were previously deemed too high risk or unnecessary.