With COP26 – the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties – kicking off last Sunday, all eyes are on Glasgow and the push to accelerate action to tackle the world’s climate and biodiversity crises.
Following a competitive application process, we are honored to be offered a place at COP26, with an exhibition stand during the public Green Zone event. This is an exciting opportunity to present our mission to a global audience and demonstrate the measurable actions we are taking in response to climate change and biodiversity conservation.
The effects of a changing climate are already apparent in Australia, never more clearly and tragically demonstrated than by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019–20.
For us, the question is how do we continue to deliver on our mission – the effective conservation of all Australian animal species and the habitats in which they live – as the fundamental ecological drivers associated with ecosystems and species (such as temperature, rainfall, fire regimes etc.) change?
In response, we are honing our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The strategy, development of which is led by Senior Ecologist Dr Jennifer Pierson, will help us to better understand and respond to the potential impacts of climate change. It will consist of three parts focusing on our ambitious reintroduction program, future land acquisitions and science-based conservation land management.
For each of these key programs the strategy involves:
· Assessing vulnerability and risk for species and ecosystems; and
· Adaptation planning under a range of future potential scenarios.
At the core of the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is the conservation of Australia’s precious biodiversity.
Research and monitoring are essential, as the better a species’ distribution and biological sensitivities (e.g., heat tolerance) are understood then the better the conservation community can respond. Our Science and Ecohealth Programs – the largest field science program in Australia – are already embedded as a core strategy. In addition, the genetic diversity of populations is closely managed in our reintroduction program and maintaining this diversity will increase the ability of species to adapt to change.
Our investment in biodiversity also directly contributes towards mitigating climate change. An audit of our carbon footprint found that each year, our fire management program – carried out across multiple tenures and 7.5 million hectares of northern Australia – conservatively abates 100,000 tonnes of CO2-e. In contrast, our activities result in the emission of only around 2,000 tonnes of CO2-e per annum. Other actions across our sanctuaries and partnership areas, including habitat and weed management, improvements to soil health, feral herbivore control and revegetation programs, are further contributing towards the mitigation of climate change.
With Australia’s species and habitats under increasing stress, our Climate Change Adaptation Strategy – together with your generous support – will help us to continue to effectively conserve Australia’s biodiversity, and help to combat the impact of a changing climate.
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