Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 15 (life on land), listed with most recent items appearing first.
Issue 32, 19 February 2024
TERN is Australia's national ecosystem observatory and has over 1,000 sites around Australia where drones are used to capture changes in vegetation and landscape characteristics. GeoNadir is a data repository allowing users to search, access, visualise, analyse, and share drone data.
"TERN is leading the way here for ensuring that drone Earth observation data collected using public funds are disseminated widely," said GeoNadir co-founder Dr Karen Joyce.
The federal government has awarded a total of $8 million to projects delivering innovative solutions for lower-cost biodiversity monitoring. Grant recipients include CSIRO and WWF.
Grant opportunity - Reef water quality and natural capital. The state government is offering a total of $5.5 million for projects aimed at improving water quality in reef catchments.
Individual grants of up to $2.5 million, or possibly more, will be considered. Applications close on 30 April.
An additional notional allocation of up to $750,000 is potentially available for applications that demonstrate a capacity to undertake natural capital projects.
Grant guidelines define natural capital projects as those that use carbon and environmental markets, or such things as impact funds or natural capital accounting, to help connect private capital to the restoration or protection of natural assets.
Open consultations - better use of Crown Land. The NSW government is seeking views by 19 March on potential reforms to the Crown Land Management Act.
Statutory development - biosecurity. The ACT government has introduced an amendment Bill to its Biosecurity Act 2023, which aims to streamline biosecurity processes and facilitate cooperation with NSW.
Grant program - tree plantings. Grants of up to $2,500 per hectare will be provided by state government-owned Private Forests Tasmania to support tree plantings by Tasmanian farmers. Expressions of interest close on 1 March.
Issue 31, 12 February 2024
New consultation - Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. The federal and Queensland governments are seeking survey responses by 16 February.
New consultation - Murray Darling Basin. Comments are invited by 4 March on the draft framework for delivering the 450GL of additional environmental water.
Statutory development - seabed mining ban. The state government has introduced an Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Sea Bed Mining and Exploration) Bill, which would ban offshore mineral and petroleum mining, as well as associated activities, in the state's coastal waters.
Issue 30, 5 February 2024
The Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action is undertaking a review of the state's Landcare Facilitator Program.
From the start of this year, the Victorian government will exempt from land tax areas that are protected by a Trust for Nature conservation covenant.
Melbourne Water has lodged an EPBC referral for a proposal to add six hectares of constructed wetland to an existing wetland to compensate for the loss of habitat arising from the previous development of the Eastern Treatment Plant solar farm.
Issue 29, 29 January 2024
Issue 28, 22 January 2024
Court ruling. The Federal Court has rejected arguments by the North East Forest Alliance that the NSW North East Regional Forest Agreement is invalid.
The Tasmanian government has released a Conservation Action Plan for the endangered Maugean skate, which is found only in the state's Macquarie Harbour.
Issue 27, 15 January 2024
In conjunction with states and territories, the federal government is updatingAustralia's Strategy for Nature.
The updated strategy will be finalised before the end of the year, and will show how Australia will contribute to the goals of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
The move follows an agreement by federal, state and territory environment ministers on the six priority areas for national targets under the strategy.
NSW's IPART has concluded NSW's Biodiversity Credits Market is not performing well and requires major changes, in its inaugural annual report on the market.
IPART concludes that allowing project proponents to pay into a Biodiversity Conservation Fund to meet their offset obligations is undermining the biodiversity credits market, and has recommended that the government phase-out the Biodiversity Conservation Fund pay-in option.
Government intervention should focus on reducing establishment and transaction costs for biodiversity credits, while allowing the market to address the remaining costs, IPART says.
In FY23, one in five project developers purchased biodiversity credits through the market, with the remainder opting to make payments into the fund, IPART notes.
The Victorian Environmental Assessment Commission has released its interim report on the values of the forests in the state's central highlands, which notes that the region's mountain ash forests are amongst the forests containing the highest density of carbon in the world.
New consultation - environmental impact assessment. The Tasmanian government is consulting on environmental impact assessment processes for projects on reserves managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. Comments are due by 8 March.
The WA government's ban on the commercial logging of native forests came into force on 1 January. The ban is backed by a new forest management plan.
Issue 26, 8 January 2024
Minister Tanya Plibersek has issued an EPBC decision that a proposal by the Port of Hastings to establish a Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal at the port for the assembly of offshore wind turbine components is "clearly unacceptable".
The reasons have not yet been provided, but the project - which initially had the backing of the Victorian government - would have potentially affected wetlands of international importance.
Ahead of the general public release of additional EPBC reform documents, the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand has made a new submission to the government based on its viewing of the documents ahead of their general release.
Associate Professor Cris Brack, an Australian National University forestry expert, has completed his inaugural six-monthly review of checking procedures for human-induced regeneration (HIR) projects under the ACCU Scheme.
HIR projects must undergo regular "gateway checks" to demonstrate that ACCUs are only being issued for land that is progressing towards forest cover.
Brack's review of a subset of 25 HIR projects found they are demonstrating regeneration, proponents are implementing the project activities, and the projects are subject to strong assurance.
The projects examined by Brack are managed by a range of entities, and vary in their age and location.
Applications close on 1 February to join the Biodiversity Assessment Expert Reference Group that will provide independent advice to DCCEEW on the design and implementation of the Nature Repair Market.
The Group will help ensure that the Nature Repair Market is informed by science and that it enables First Nations people to contribute their unique knowledge on their terms.
Grant opportunity. DCCEEW has released initial details of a Gamechangers for Native Species funding round, with applications for a share in $11.5 million accepted from 24 January.
Issue 25, 18 December 2023
Transcript of DCCEEW's public webinar on EPBC reform is now available. The transcript points out that, under the proposed reforms, the approval decision-maker will in most cases be the soon-to-be-established independent Environment Protection Australia, not the Environment Minister.
A NSW Department of Planning and Environment environmental plantings project has been issued with 24,026 Australian Carbon Credit Units, worth more than $768,800 at the current generic ACCU spot price.
The environmental plantings have been carried out in degraded National Parks reserves that were previously used for forestry, mining or agricultural purposes.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is the first parks agency in Australia to commit to becoming carbon positive by 2028, and the ACCUs will be used to offset any residual NPWS emissions, and generate revenue.
The ACT government has released a Native Species Conservation Plan for koalas.
Issue 24, 11 December 2023
Statutory development. Federal Parliament has passed the Nature Repair Market Bill, which creates a trading regime for biodiversity certificates.
The Bill passed after the government agreed to Greens amendments that prevent the certificates being used for biodiversity offsetting purposes.
The Greens also secured a commitment from the government to broaden the EPBC water trigger before the end of the year so that it covers all types of gas projects, not just coal seam gas.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has established a new advisory Nature Finance Council to encourage business investment in nature repair, which is chaired by former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry.
Other members include Anna Skarbek (Climateworks CEO), David Jenkins (NAB's global head of sustainable finance), David Thodey (former Telstra CEO), Dr Jody Gunn (CEO, Australian Land Conservation Alliance), Elizabeth O’Leary (Macquarie Asset Management's global chair of agriculture and natural assets), and Ian Hamm (chair of the Board of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation).
The council will advise on increasing investment into benefits for nature, and positioning Australia as a global leader in nature finance.
The proponents of a proposed Nature Positive Economy CRC have welcomed two carbon project developers, Climate Friendly and Regenco, as core partners. The bid team's associate partners include WWF and Accounting for Nature.
The most recent reverse auction conducted by the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund received 75 bids offering more than 116,000 credits, according to an auction update.
After bid evaluation, more than 17,000 credits were accepted for purchase, worth a total of $33.3 million.
The Accounting for Nature program has accredited the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust under its Accounting for Nature Framework.
The Trust establishes and manages conservation agreements with landholders, and the accreditation confirms it operates a robust ecological monitoring framework.
Consultation opportunity and statutory development. Comments are due by 14 February on a discussion paper on the South Australian government's proposed introduction of a new Biodiversity Act.
Issue 23, 4 December 2023
The Nature Conservancy, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA) and WWF-Australia have released a report on how Australia can meet its commitment to protect 30% of its land and oceans by 2030.
The report calls for a new $5 billion fund for the purchase of high conservation value land, and more support for permanent conservation covenants on private land.
Victoria's Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability has released the latest State of the Environment report.
Of the 139 indicators examined in the report, 33 are improving, 34 are stable, 60 are deteriorating, and 44 are unclear.
Responding to biodiversity decline and climate change remain major challenges for Victoria, the report says.
Issue 22, 27 November 2023
Taking decisive action to become a nature-positive economy could boost Australia’s national income by AU$47 billion by 2050, according to a new paper from consultancy EY.
The report says current "carbon-focused" policies can drive large-scale land sector sequestration, but will deliver almost no habitat restoration, because environmental plantings are more expensive than other types of landscape-based carbon credit projects.
"We contrast this with a more balanced approach to carbon and biodiversity goals. This delivers more than seven times more native habitat at an opportunity cost of 20% less carbon in 2050, relative to the carbon-focused approach," it says.
The proposed "balanced approach" would uses a levy on all carbon sequestration to fund a top-up payment that incentivises restoration of habitat with high conservation values.
Issue 20, 13 November 2023
The federal government will host webinars on 23 November and 28 November on the state-of-play of its proposed EPBC Act reforms, with bookings to open shortly here.
Consultation opportunity. Victoria's Threatened Species Committee has made a preliminary recommendation that salvage logging of burnt forests be treated as a potentially threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Comments are due by 10 December.
Consultation opportunity. The Tasmanian government intends overhauling the state's threatened species strategy. Comments on a discussion paper are due by 22 December.
Issue 19, 6 November 2023
A new legal opinion, commissioned by Pollination Law and the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative, advises that Australian company directors should at least identify their company’s nature-related dependencies and impacts, and consider the potential risks these may pose.
Directors who fail to consider nature-related risks "could be found liable for breaching their duty of care and diligence", it says.
The opinion was written by Sebastian Hartford-Davis and Zoe Bush.
New research by EY, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, shows $260 billion of all outstanding Australian bank loans, or 22% of bank lending, is to sectors that carry a high risk of impacting nature.
Livestock agriculture, which holds $47bn of outstanding loans from leading Australian banks, is the subsector responsible for the biggest impact on nature, the report says.
The research sets out six legacy banking practices that act as barriers to protecting and restoring nature, and identifies ten actions that banks can take to make their lending practices consistent with the UN Global Biodiversity Framework.
Statutory development. A Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Incident Response) Bill introduced to the Victorian Parliament aims to improve biosecurity preparedness and responses.
Issue 18, 30 October 2023
The federal government's Nature Repair Market Bill won't come before the Senate for debate until at least late April next year, following a decision to extend the reporting date for a Senate committee inquiry into the Bill from 1 November this year to 18 April next year.
Bids are open until 1 November in the latest reverse auction for contracts to sell biodiversity credits to the NSW Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund.
Issue 17, 23 October 2023
Emerging carbon and nature markets will be pivotal in encouraging landholders to go beyond mere compliance with native vegetation protection laws, according to a Queensland government response to an independent review of land clearing in the state.
The report of the panel, led by Professor Hugh Possingham and with members including Professor Andrew Macintosh, as well as the government's response, are now available.
The panel proposes an 'engage, inform, incentivise and reward' approach. It says changing legislation can cause panic clearing, and there are now greater opportunities for landowners to benefit by protecting biodiversity and storing carbon.
"Queensland has an opportunity to become a world leader in carbon- and biodiversity-friendly farming and to realise a significant market advantage as a result," the panel says.
After three auction rounds, the NSW Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund is on track to out-do initial expectations that it would purchase and re-sell biodiversity credits worth $200 million in its first three years of operation, says a new market update from the Department of Planning and Environment.
Since the Supply Fund commenced operations, 11% of credits purchased through the biodiversity market have been through the Supply Fund, representing 21% of the total market value, the update says.
Issue 16, 9 October 2023
Environmental markets business GreenCollar has issued its first NaturePlus credits - a total of 8,557 credits generated from a sustainable grazing and carbon farming project in western NSW, with Queensland-based credits soon to follow.
Each NaturePlus credit represents habitat or species restoration or conservation outcomes achieved over one hectare. NaturePlus projects are registered under the independently developed Accounting for Nature framework.
The AfN framework sets the overarching standard for measuring the trend in ecological health for different environmental assets (such as agricultural soils, native vegetation, and fauna).
Credits generated across a land or seascape are categorised into tiers according to whether they overlap areas of state, national or international significance. GreenCollar has also released the NaturePlus Standard, guide, and claims guidance.
An independent review of the NaturePlus scheme is also one of three new documents on voluntary biodiversity credit schemes released by Pollination Group.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has released issue two of its Biodiversity Credits Catalogue, which lists credtis for sale and contains landholder stewardship stories.
Issue 14, 25 September 2023
DCCEEW has released reports on pilot TNFD-aligned disclosures of nature-related impacts and dependencies in five value chains - critical minerals; gas extraction for industrial manufacturing; beef and salmon; property development and construction; and cotton.
The Australian and US governments have signed a joint statement pledging cooperation on natural capital accounting.
Transcript of the 11 September hearing of a Senate inquiry into the Nature Repair Market Bill is now available, featuring testimony from the National Farmers Federation, the Australian Climate and Biodiversity Foundation, and the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative.
Grant opportunity. The Victorian government is offering second-round grants under the Nature Fund, which promotes collaboration with private and philanthropic groups. A total of $3.5 million is on offer. Expressions of interest are due by 6 November.
Issue 13, 18 September 2023
DCCEEW has released an interim guideline for organisations seeking to draft new methods for creating ACCUs, for consideration by the new Carbon Abatement Integrity Committee.
The Chubb review of the ACCU scheme recommended that proponents be allowed to develop and propose new methods for the creation of ACCUs.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has released a step-by-step guide to using the Biodiversity Values Map and Threshold tool.
The NSW government has ordered a halt to logging in key koala habitat areas that are expected to form part of a new Great Koala National Park on the Mid-North Coast.
Issue 12, 11 September 2023
A Senate inquiry into the Nature Repair Market Bill will hold its second hearing this evening, with the National Farmers Federation, the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute, and the Australian Climate and Biodiversity Foundation scheduled to give evidence.
A Senate committee inquiring into climate-related marine invasive species is due to release its report tomorrow.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has released an updated threat abatement plan for feral cats.
The WA EPA has recommended that the Conservation and Parks Commission's proposed Forest Management Plan for 2024-2033 be approved, subject to an independent scientific review of prescribed burning.
Following the state government’s decision to end the logging of native forests, the proposed Plan largely focuses on the management of forest ecosystems to address threats, reduce pressures, and protect intact ecosystems over the next 10 years.
Issue 11, 4 September 2023
The NSW EPA has issued a stop work order to the NSW Forestry Corporation, requiring it to cease harvesting in parts of the Tallagana State Forest, following the death of a Southern Greater Glider.
Issue 10, 28 August 2023
The federal government has struck a new agreement with the NSW, South Australian and ACT governments to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, including 450 gigalitres of water for the environment, although by the delayed deadline of the end of 2027.
Legislation to implement the new agreement will be introduced into federal Parliament next month. The Victorian government does not support the new agreement, nor does the National Farmers Federation.
The federal government has confirmed that the first Global Nature Positive Summit will be held in Sydney next October. The summit will focus on transparency and reporting, investment in nature, and partnerships and capacity development.
Work is under way to submit a bid to the federal government early next year seeking funding to establish a Nature Positive Economy Cooperative Research Centre.
The Australian National Audit Office has released an audit of DCCEEW's implementation of the wildlife and habitat bushfire recovery program, finding the department's administration of the program was largely effective.
The Wilderness Society has released a report commissioned from EY that examines financial investment from the EU and North America into sectors that constitute a deforestation and forest degradation risk in Australia.
The report of the NSW Independent Review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act has been tabled in state Parliament, along with the Final Report of the Statutory Review of the native vegetation provisions (Part 5A and Schedule 5A and Schedule 5B) of NSW's Local Land Services Act 2013.
Meanwhile, NSW's Department of Planning and Environment has released a summary of public submissions received by the review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The ACT government has released Caring for Dhawura Ngunnawal, its natural resource management plan for the next 20 years.
Grant opportunity. The state government has launched a $3 million pilot grant program, providing assistance to landowners in the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) region interested in 'environmental plantings' carbon farming projects.
Issue 9, 21 August 2023
DCCEEW is seeking expressions of interest from leading scientists interested in joining the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
The federal government has released a new feral deer action plan.
The latest reverse auction for the purchase of NSW biodiversity credits, held in June and July, has resulted in the NSW Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund offering to buy 21,000 credits, for a total of $44.5 million. The next reverse auction will be held in October.
Issue 8, 14 August 2023
Consultation opportunity. The NSW government is seeking feedback by 11 September on a proposed amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan that would allow aerial shooting of feral horses.
The NSW government has invited expressions of interest (closing 8 September) from landholders in the Upper Hunter interested in receiving annual payments in exchange for implementing an agreed conservation management plan.
The EOI process for the Upper Hunter conservation tender will be followed by a bidding process that will start early next year. A related speech by Biodiversity Conservation Trust CEO Erin Giuliani is available here.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment has released a document explaining the area clearing threshold that determines when the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is triggered.
There are two triggers - whether the amount of native vegetation being cleared exceeds a threshold area, and whether the impacts occur on an area mapped on the state's Biodiversity Values Map.
Issue 7, 7 August 2023
The Queensland government says its latest 'SLATS' study of tree-clearing in the state shows the clearing of regulated vegetation reduced from about 98,000 hectares in 2019-20 to 61,000 hectares in 2020-21. However, the Wilderness Society said the scale of clearing in the state is still too high.
New data from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment shows a 7% decrease in hectares of native vegetation clearing in 2021, compared to 2020. The data also shows a 15% increase in clearing for agricultural purposes, a 35% decrease for native forest harvesting, and a 21% decrease in clearing for infrastructure. The state government will take the results into account in formulating its response to the review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act, which is due to be completed this month.
The Victorian government has granted approval for Wind Prospect's 350MW Willatook wind farm near Port Fairy, with the Clean Energy Council criticising conditions that require construction to be suspended during the breeding season of the Brolga, which is a listed threatened species, and for larger buffers to protect the Brolga and the Southern Bent-wing Bat.
Issue 6, 31 July 2023
Queensland's Department of Environment and Science has suggested that a working group of federal, state and territory governments be established to work on the design of a nature repair market framework that aligns with related reforms, such as the Chubb review recommendations and EPBC Act changes.
It makes the suggestion in answers to questions on notice submitted to a Senate committee inquiry into the Nature Repair Market Bill.
NSW Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe has released the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust’s Investing in Private Land Conservation plan, which outlines key investment priorities for private land conservation, and has also released an executive summary.
The WA government has awarded carbon farming grants totalling $2.15 million to eight farming businesses.
Issue 5, 23 July 2023
Consultation opportunity. The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking submissions by 11 August to its five-yearly review of the Biodiversity Assessment Method.
Issue 4, 17 July 2023
Grant opportunity. Farmers and other landholders in Queensland can now apply for the next round of funding under the state's Carbon Farming Advice Scheme, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to obtain carbon farming advice from a Land Restoration Fund approved advisor.
The WA government has issued a new strategy to manage feral cats.
Issue 3, 10 July 2023
Consultation opportunity. Submissions are due by 4 August to an IPART issues paper on NSW's biodiversity credit market.
The Queensland Audit Office has released a report on managing invasive species, which recommends a review of the Biosecurity Act 2014.
Statutory Development. South Australia's Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate, Environment and Water, Susan Close, has introduced the Pastoral Land Management and Conservation (Use of Pastoral Land) Amendment Bill, wwhich ensures that pastoral leases can be used for carbon farming and conservation.
Issue 2, 3 July 2023
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has announced "a full audit" of more than 1,000 offset sites approved over the past 20 years, to ensure they are meeting their obligations.
The Senate committee inquiry into the Nature Repair Market Bill held a public hearing on Friday.
Bids opened 28 June and will close 12 July for the third Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund reverse auction, which seeks to buy credits that are on a target list.
The NSW government has released a briefing on probity and transparency arrangements relating to the operation of the Biodiversity Credits Supply Taskforce and Credits Supply Fund.
The Victorian government has instructed the Victorian Environmental Assessment Act to assess the values of the Immediate Protection Areas in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland, and in adjacent state forests in eastern Victoria.
Consultation opportunity. The NT EPA is inviting submissions on whether to assess the proposed clearing of 4,517 hectares of land on Mathison Station, with comments due by 26 July.
Issue 1, 26 June 2023
The Nature Repair Market Bill has passed the Legislative Assembly, with amendments, and is now in the Senate.
The Albanese government has thrown its support behind a new agriculture investment vehicle, Wilga Farming, that will promote the use of low-emissions technologies and carbon sequestration across Australian farmland. The CEFC will invest $50 million, in Wilga Farming, which owns a 1200-hectare property in NSW, to support a range of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity. Wilga Farming will be managed by Gunn Agri Partners.
Grant opportunity. Applications are open until 24 July for grants to land managers under the $17.5 million federal Carbon Farming Outreach program.
The NSW Audit Office has released a report on Native Public Forestry Regulation, and the state's EPA has accepted all four recommendations.
The NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust and WWF have partnered on a program that will support 10 landholders to permanently conserve about 500 hectares of koala habitat in the Northern Rivers region.
The Western Australian government has gazetted the first listing of threatened ecological communities under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Test issue, 20 June 2023
Debate has started in the House of Representatives on the Nature Repair Market Bill.
The reporting deadline for two inquiries by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee have been extended from 30 June to 6 December – the inquiry into the Greens' Climate Trigger Bill and the inquiry into the Greens' Save the Koala Bill.
The South Australian Budget provides funding to establish BioData SA, which will overhaul data held by the state and guide decision-making on biodiversity protection and restoration programs.
Test issue, 14 June 2023
Have your say!
Submissions are due by 1 June to the Senate inquiry into the Nature Repair Market Bill.
The Senate inquiry into the EPBC Amendment (Save the Koala) Bill will report by June 30.
Have your say!
Submissions are due by April 28 to a Senate inquiry into managing feral horses in the Australian Alps.