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25 June 2013
New Australia21 report released

Repairing and preparing Australia's landscapes for global change:
Why we must do much more


Australia needs to look at its landscapes in new ways if it is to meet the 21st Century challenges associated with climate change and food, water and energy security.

The report is based on an expert roundtable held at the University of Melbourne on 21 February 2013 to discuss the benefits of large-scale reforestation and revegetation, and how they could best be achieved.  The project was co-sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria and the Primary Industries Adaptation Research Network. Funding was also provided through a bequest from Jan Lee Martin.

Australia21 director, Richard Eckersley, the author of the report said: 'For all the policy developments and practical achievements of the past 20 to 30 years in managing our environments and ecosystems, we are not closing the gap between the magnitude of the challenge and the scale of our response. Without a new vision for creating healthy, resilient landscapes, we will experience continuing environmental decline and degradation.'

Inside the report

A new vision for Australian landscapes would:

  • Embrace all Australian landscapes and all Australians, rural and urban alike. Landscapes are a vital part of local, regional and national identity; all our futures depend on them.
  • Acknowledge climate change as a ‘game changer’, in terms of both the role of landscapes in mitigation and adaptation, and  the huge, varied, but still uncertain, impacts of climate change on landscapes.
  • Stimulate the growth of a landscape regeneration and management industry to produce the capacity to use available funding and meet policy objectives.
Richard Eckersley also said: 'The continuing failure to close the gap between what we are doing in landscape management and what we know we need to do means we are squandering our natural heritage and betraying future generations.

 The reasons for the lack of progress are not, now, primarily to do with poor policy or lack of public funding. They include cultural features such as the divide between urban and rural Australians and our growing disconnection from nature and all it provides for us. The state of our landscapes is not among the issues and concerns that dominate public and political debate; it should be.

Conversely, what we have achieved in the last two to three decades provides the foundation for a much bigger and bolder endeavour to maintain, restore and regenerate our unique environments. In doing that, it could become a symbol of a much broader transformation of Australia into a genuinely sustainable society.’

The benefits of large-scale landscape regeneration, reforestation and revegetation include: preserving biodiversity; reducing soil and water loss and degradation; providing shelter, shade and fodder; cooler regional climates; carbon sequestration; increasing soil fertility and productivity; more sustainable agriculture; more timber  and other tree  products; better pollination;  production of biofuels; enhanced food, water and energy security; benefits to tourism; supporting rural communities; creating employment; bridging the cultural divide between city and country; promoting national reconciliation; improving people’s wellbeing; and higher civic morale.

The report is available on the Australia21 website to view in HTML and to download  in PDF
Australia21 is a small not for profit organisation which seeks to create new frameworks of understanding about the strategic issues facing us in the 21st century.
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