On 20 July, the Interim Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) was released.
The Interim Report sets out preliminary views on the EPBC Act and how it operates. It focuses on the fundamental problems of the legislation and proposes reform directions that are needed to address these.
As specialists in the restoration of habitat Greening Australia has been calling for and supports the Interim report in three key areas:
Greening Australia supports the view in the Report that “There are opportunities beyond the EPBC Act that should be explored to accelerate investment in restoration.” The Interim Report also recognizes the importance of restoration in Australia “Given the state of decline of Australia’s environment, restoration is required to enable future development to be sustainable. Available habitat needs to grow to be able to support both development and a healthy environment”.
“The value of restoration of native vegetation is well known – it can reverse the negative effects of clearing and habitat fragmentation including loss of biodiversity, land degradation soil erosion and poor water quality.”Brendan Foran, Greening Australia CEO
The importance of “improved leverage of the carbon market to deliver improved biodiversity outcomes” is also recognized in the Interim report and supported by Greening Australia as is the ‘stacking’ of credits to enable delivery of both carbon and biodiversity outcomes which was recommended in our submission to this Review.
Greening Australia supports the enhancing the links between the carbon market and biodiversity markets which can shift restoration efforts into many areas of higher biodiversity value and thereby, delivering multiple benefits for the community.
The Interim report includes recognition of the opportunities to “co-invest with the philanthropic and private sectors, including funding innovation to bring down the cost of environmental restoration, growing the habitat available to support healthy systems.” Such changes under the right framework would change the restoration market in Australia, creating regional jobs and enhancing conservation.
Greening Australia would also welcome the opportunity to work with Professor Graham Samuel AC through this Review of the EPBC Act and with the Australian Government “to provide policy settings to better leverage private interest in investing in the environment as well as drive down the cost of restoration.” This is a potentially huge opportunity to enhance much needed investment into the market.
“Changes such as those identified in this Interim report for: environmental restoration, supporting the carbon market to achieve biodiversity outcomes and stimulating private investment into restoration have the potential to transform the scale of landscape restoration in Australia and have a major impact on conserving our biodiversity.”Brendan Foran, Greening Australia CEO