2022 NSW STATE BUDGET. WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE STATE ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITIES

The NSW State Budget has turned its environmental focus on biodiversity this year, with more than $2 billion invested in programs focusing on protection, conservation and natural capital investment.

Handed down on Tuesday 21st June, the Department of Environment and Heritage announced ‘biodiversity being a….clear focus in the 2022-23 NSW Budget, with major investments in ground-breaking programs that support landholders to protect and conserve their land.’

NSW CEO, Turlough Guerin, said he welcomed further investment in the environment and community sector.

“The NSW Landcare community, and all our communities, have rallied in an incredible way over the past year in response to COVID-19, bushfires and now floods hitting our regions.

“It’s led to much loss, but an investment into biodiversity, rewarding land owners for sustainable land management and identifying the benefits of investing in building a more sustainable future is very welcome. It will better support our Landcarers to get on with the job of ensuring that our communities and environments thrive,” Mr Guerin said.

Big winners this year are $106.7 million investment in the Biodiversity Credits Supply Fund, and $206.2 million over 10 years to enhance the State’s natural capital by rewarding farmers who opt-in to a Sustainable Farming accreditation program.

In the conservation sector, large scale lobbying and warnings from environmentalists regarding their potential extinction, have created a koala focus with the NSW Government committing to $145.9 million to continue to deliver the NSW Koala Strategy.  This strategy is targeted at conservation actions with the long-term goal of doubling koala numbers in New South Wales by 2050. This is on top of the $50 million the Federal Government allocated to support the species in its most recent budget

Landcare NSW project partner, Saving Our Species, secured $60 million to continue the Saving our Species program which aims to support and restore identified threatened species from extinction (part of the existing $75 million recurrent expenses over five years announced in 2021).

Other highlights include:

  1. $24.2 million for essential environmental monitoring for air quality forecasting and alerts, and to expand water quality monitoring to more swim sites across New South Wales.
  2. $163.9 million in 2022-23 to bolster the State’s response and readiness capability to future biosecurity incursions, including enhanced response targeting endemic species.
  3. $182.0 million to deliver the 10-year NSW Government Marine Estate Management Strategy to improve water quality, estuary health and other biodiversity and environmental metrics.
  4. $163.9 million in 2022-23 to bolster the State’s response and readiness capability to future biosecurity incursions, including enhanced response targeting endemic species.
  5. $17.1 million to continue the Farm Business Resilience Program and Rural Financial Counselling Service, which provides farmers with the skills and knowledge they need to build resilience to future droughts and natural disasters.
  6. $222.1 million over four years for the National Parks and Wildlife Service across the State, to support the following investments benefiting regional communities: – the new Arc Rainforest Centre and Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk to showcase the ancient World Heritage rainforests of the Dorrigo escarpment – the establishment of a Reserve and Activation Fund to fill critical gaps in the national parks estate and to enhance regional tourism and economic benefits
  7. $32.9 million to boost the State’s early detection and response to biosecurity threats on Lord Howe Island and protect the Island’s World Heritage ecological values.
  8. $286.2 million over four years to implement the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 and NSW Plastics Action Plan
  9. Continued delivery of the $49.4 million Gardens of Stone Walk near Lithgow to showcase the State’s diverse natural and cultural heritage assets.
  10. $148.4 million over two years to manage the clean-up and removal of flood and storm-related damage, debris and green waste from the 2022 floods
  11. $93.7 million over eight years for a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to develop risk assessments, action plans and other capabilities needed to address the physical risks arising from climate change
  12. $19.8 million for Water Strategy Initiatives to address floodplain management, First Nations access and a groundwater framework.

For full budget papers click here https://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/budget-papers

New Partnership set to develop and deliver nature-based climate change mitigation and biodiversity projects in NSW

Landcare NSW has today announced it is partnering with South Pole, a leading project developer and global climate action expert, to develop climate action projects across NSW.

Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit said the partnership is a natural fit for Landcare NSW whose mission is to care for our land, environment, and communities.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with South Pole to develop world-leading projects taking practical action to deal with climate change. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote nature-based carbon sequestration and this partnership is a step in the right direction.

“Our partnership will take an innovative approach to make lasting change. It will see the development of carbon credit projects that deliver real, tangible benefits to the local communities in which our Landcare groups and landholders live and work throughout NSW,” said Dr Zammit.

Dr Thomas Schroder, Head of Climate Action for South Pole said the partnership will allow both organisations to achieve strong environmental outcomes.

“Working with Landcare NSW to reduce and remove carbon emissions, as well as restore and protect our state’s unique biodiversity, is an exciting opportunity for South Pole,” said Dr Schroder.

“As well as supporting our national decarbonisation efforts, developing these projects with landholders and local Landcare groups can provide new revenue streams for farmers and property owners while leading to direct productivity gains and positive environmental outcomes on the ground.”

The partnership brings together South Pole’s global and local expertise as a project developer with Landcare NSW’s strong community network, creating opportunities for Landcare members across the whole state via the range of carbon and biodiversity project options available. Landcare NSW is currently identifying a number of regions for pilot projects.

A range of nature-based projects will be possible including soil carbon, human induced regeneration, beef cattle herd management and forest management. These can be registered with the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Regulator to generate Australian Carbon Credit Units, or with international voluntary carbon standards, such as Gold Standard or Verra. Biodiversity conservation projects will also form part of the offering, in light of the NSW Government’s Biodiversity Offset Scheme and voluntary standards. These projects not only generate on-farm benefits, they also sequester carbon and protect and restore biodiversity. This generates a revenue stream that pays the farmer to undertake necessary activities.

Landcare NSW is the peak representative body of community Landcare groups in NSW. Landcare is a community-driven approach to sustainable natural resource management with a focus on improving the resilience of the environment now and into the future.

South Pole is a global profit-for-purpose company and certified B Corp which develops emissions reduction and biodiversity projects across a range of methodologies and works with the private and the public sector to drive decarbonisation. Active in Australia since 2012, South Pole has a team of experts in local offices in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as regional representations.

Media contacts: 

Landcare NSW
Jodie Lovell – 0439 316 151

South Pole
Carly Youd – 0432 357 468

BIRDS OF A FEATHER – HOW FIVE LANDCARE GROUPS ARE ENSURING THE FUTURE OF THOUSANDS

Listen carefully and you’ll notice a distinctive sound. In between the throaty cries of crows and the screeching of galahs, the warbling tones of the Superb Parrot colour the air as they feast on flowering gums and grass seeds.

There is some debate around the remaining number of Superb Parrots in the wild, whether there is 8,000 or 10,000, however the fact we can all agree on is that their numbers are declining.

But not if local Landcare and community groups have anything to do with it.

Established in 2017, a consortium including Boorowa Landcare, Hovells Creek Landcare, Upper Lachlan Landcare, Lachlandcare & Mid Lachlan Landcare are working together with partners Cowra Woodland Birds, Greening Australia and National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW to ensure that the parrots and the project that supports them has a fighting chance.

Found along inland Eastern NSW, the parrots face many challenges. As a mainly hollow-bearing species, the parrots require trees of over 100 years old – as only mature trees create hollows – and are restricted to certain tree species such as Box-Gum, Box-Cypress-pine and Boree Woodlands and River Red Gum Forest as well as Blakely’s Red Gum, Yellow Box, Apple Box and Red Box.

But with a support group as collectively diverse as the species habitat range, the passion and dedication that the members bring to preserving the species is inspiring and heartening.

Bird walks have been held over all the region, as part of the broader SoS program. The one last month brought it to six.

Educational seminars have been going for more than five years and up to 100 participants have been trained in the monitoring technique through this project.

Dedicated programs spanning years to support not just the superb parrot but all birdlife and the supporting ecosystems? Absolutely.

For Local Landcare Coordinator for Boorowa Landcare, Linda Cavanagh, the involvement and support of community groups and local landholders has helped sustain the momentum for the continuation of the programs.

“Community involvement is crucial. But community enthusiasm is a driving factor and is so important too. Boorowa Landcare is one of five Landcare groups in our region who have taken on supporting the Superb Parrot and the ecosystems on which they rely on.

“One of our biggest drivers has been local landholders collating and collecting data about the birds and feeding into this program.

“Our birdwalks and regular bird surveys help build the knowledge of population trends, key flight paths and the success factors that lead to successful breeding ecology of the Superb Parrot.

“With such a vast habitat area, collaborations such as the ones between all our local landcare groups are so important and we can help build the knowledge base to help support our work and advocacy for the species.

“Of course, the key strength of the program has been the community engagement activities to increase awareness and interest in project participation by keen volunteers, we couldn’t do it without them,” Linda said.

The funding for the program and activities comes from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (previously Office of Environment & Heritage) and has helped ensure that Superb Parrot restoration actions in the broader Saving Our Species (SoS) program continue. 

Local Superb Parrot expert, Pat Downey, says collective group’s involvement in supporting the species lead to greater data collection and consistency that is in line with Regional and State wide data bases.

“I’ve been working with Landcare for five years and have seen the growth of passion and ownership for the health of the species.

“The education component is critical is helping communities understand their impact on the local environment and how removing just one tree can have a huge ripple effect on all local species. You are removing a potential home, food source, shelter for other species, microbes in the soil for other vegetation. But, by leaving that tree and protecting it by fencing it off to protect it in combination with planting understorey shrubs you are investing in your land, your profitability and the future of a multitude of species.

“Additionally, by fencing off existing paddock trees you are also supporting your livestock as you are supporting the health of the tree and future trees it may lead to and there’s value for everyone in those things,” Pat said.

As you watch their flight and movement you can understand why communities want to support them and their future. They’re beautiful to watch. A shift in the angle of wings, a cresting in the air and you witness a change in colour with the brilliance in green and gold and example of why a shift in perspective can mean the world of a difference.

The Saving Our Superb Parrot is funded by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Saving Our Species (SoS) program.

Biodiversity development key component for environmental projects

Burrumbuttock Squirrel Gliders LAMP Project by Lou Bull.

There is a dark stripe from between the eyes to the mid-back, and the tail is soft and bushy averaging about 27 cm in length. Distinct in appearance and vulnerable in habitat, Squirrel Gliders are some of Australia’s smaller residents.   

In the small town of Burrumbuttock, in the central southern part of the Riverina region, Landcare and community groups have been busy advocating, preserving and enhancing their natural habitat to ensure that future generations, both of the human and glider variety, are here to enjoy it.

Naturally, their homes of choice are tree hollows in 100 year old eucalyptus where they can hide in the dark until evening falls and then come out to feed on insects, flowers and tree sap.

The Burrumbuttock Squirrel Glider Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) Project aims to double the glider population at Burrumbuttock to 1,000, but at a starting number of 555 it’s a long road.

“This project has been going for 20 years. Squirrel gliders are hollow dependant but hollows only start forming when trees are over 100 years old and a nesting pair can use up to 30 hollows across their home range. They move around a lot to match where available food is at different times of year, weather, avoid different predators,” says Regional Landcare Coordinator for the Murray Region, Paula Sheehan.

“The trees we planted may be 80 years away from being homes for the gliders, but we are 20 years closer than if we had not started. In the meantime, they will be a food source and help the gliders move about their range.

Support from private landholders and the wider community is essential for the longevity of the project, Paula says.

“So far we have 41 landholders who have committed to supporting the project on their properties with more on the waiting list. Their support is crucial in ensuring the long-term viability of the species.

“Projects such as these are about supporting and developing biodiversity. It’s not as simple as putting some trees in and waiting. It is so much more than that. We are not just supporting gliders, we are supporting trees, grasslands, lizards, birds, insects and the farmers themselves. It’s all part of a much bigger picture,” said Paula.

Local Landcare Coordinator for Mid Lachlan Landcare Tracee Burke agrees, saying projects that groups develop are not just about one specific species. They are about supporting and protecting biodiversity across all landscapes.

“The collaborative role Mid Lachlan Landcare and private landholders have in the Box Gum Grassy Woodland Habitat on Farm project is crucial. We are working together to create bio-diverse, healthy farms that protect and enhance this woodland.  

“We are working with landholders to find the best way to maintain the remaining trees, encourage natural regeneration, provide connectivity and plant new species if required.”

With less than 10% of its pre-European distribution intact, the open woodland trees are listed as critically endangered both at a state and nationwide level. With their range spanning from Queensland to Victoria, it’s a big task.

“The trees are just one component in the biodiversity of the surrounding areas. With them comes shrubs, grasses, native herbs and with that comes mammals such as the Squirrel Glider, birds such as the Superb Parrot, reptiles and frogs. These all work alongside one another and need to be protected. By doing one, you are supporting the other and we are always thinking of both,” Tracee said.

Images produced with permission.

‘Squirrel Gliders’ Lou Bull – Petaurus Education Group Project Officer 

‘Box Gum Grassy Woodland’ – Local Landcare Coordinator Tracee Burke – Mid Lachlan Landcare 

To find out more:

Samantha Stratton – Landcare NSW

sstratton@landcarensw.org.au

Box Gum Grassy Woodland by Tracee Burke