Uniting Communities supports South Australia’s first carbon offset project

L-R Neil McFarlane, Director Climate Change, Department for Environment and Water; Hannah Ling of Greening Australia; and Simon Schrapel, Uniting Communities Chief Executive. Photo credit: Jo-Anna Robinson of photojo

South Australia’s first biodiverse carbon offset project is attracting cross-sector support, with leading community services organisation Uniting Communities becoming the first not-for-profit to back the project.

Uniting Communities supports over 30,000 South Australians with community services, and was the first SA organisation and first registered charity in the country to receive a certified carbon neutral status by the federal government.

Uniting Communities have purchased carbon credits from Greening Australia’s carbon trading arm Biodiverse Carbon Conservation (now Canopy), the revenue from which will support enhancing and protecting over 1,075 ha of revegetated land, creating critical habitat for internationally important migratory shorebirds and other threatened wildlife.

This project is a partnership between the South Australian Government and Greening Australia – operating across four South Australian Government conservation reserves and one privately owned property in the Murray-Darling Basin.

‘We’re excited to be leading the way on such an important environmental project in South Australia,’ said Uniting Communities’ Chief Executive, Simon Schrapel.

‘As a certified carbon neutral organisation, we’ve worked hard to reduce our impact on the environment, as it is our customers and clients who will be among those most affected by climate change. Through this initiative, we can also have a direct and positive impact on the numerous wildlife species that live in or migrate to South Australia’s wetlands.’

Every year, tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds from countries including Russia, China and Japan cross the Pacific Ocean to feed and shelter in water bodies across South Australia. One of these sites is The Coorong and Lakes at the end of the River Murray, a Ramsar Wetland of international significance. The Coorong and Lakes attract a vast array of migratory and native shorebirds, including Fairy Terns, Orange-bellied Parrots, Banded Stilts and Emu Wrens.

The Orange-bellied Parrot – copyright JJ Harison wikicommons


Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said the Coorong and Lower Lakes were on the brink of collapse during the millennium drought, but the area is slowly starting to recover.

‘The South Australian Government is working to restore this iconic area of our state,’ he said. ‘This partnership supports the revegetation of important areas and boosts our remediation goals.’

In addition to its significant carbon offset and environmental impacts, the program offers numerous economic and social benefits to local communities across South Australia, such as improving soil and water quality, and decreasing salinity.

The carbon off-setting project has attracted interest from the corporate sector as well, with Virgin Australia signing on as a carbon credit partner in late 2018.

Brendan Foran, CEO of Greening Australia, said, ‘Carbon credit production is still a precious commodity in Australia, so we are excited to be able to partner with other like-minded organisations like Uniting Communities to make it a reality.

‘This is something we’d like to see used as a national model for putting biodiverse carbon back into areas to create healthy, productive landscapes where nature and people thrive.’


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