EDO report: Defending the Unburnt – a guide to private land conservation for landholders

The Environmental Defenders Office has published a new report focusing on the important role that private land conservation plays in protecting important areas on the East Coast of Australia that were not burnt in the black summer bushfire.

private landholders are in a unique position to contribute meaningfully to bushfire recovery and the long-term protection of biodiversity through private land conservation“.

Read Defending the Unburnt or an excerpt from the report below:

From a public interest perspective, private land conservation is hugely beneficial. Australia is one of seventeen ‘mega-diverse’ nations in the world, making our biodiversity internationally significant and the forests of Eastern Australia are a recognised global biodiversity hotspot. However, Australia has the unfortunate distinction of being the world leader in mammalian extinction and Eastern Australia is also globally recognised as a deforestation front. There are thousands of plants, animals and ecological communities at risk of extinction across QLD, NSW and VIC. The 2019- 2020 bushfires have exacerbated this problem. Many species and ecological communities now require urgent legal protection. Private conservation has an important role to play in reversing the decline of threatened species and ecological communities and securing their long-term survival in the wild. This will benefit all of us.

The majority of biodiversity in Australia has no formal protection and the public reserve system is not yet comprehensive, adequate or representative (CAR) in terms of the species and ecosystems that are protected. The Australian Government has committed to joining the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People which is a global pact to conserve 30 percent of the world’s land and sea by 2030. Australia has pledged to protect a combined 30 percent of domestic land and ocean by 2030.

Conserving biodiversity on private land augments the public reserve system, contributes to CAR protection and will help Australia meet its HAC commitment of 30 percent of land and sea protected by 2030.

The role of private land conservation in defending the unburnt Private conservation is also important for connectivity across landscapes and builds resilience within ecosystems (which is especially important in light of climate change e.g. by providing corridors for wildlife to move between areas as the climate changes).

Landholders involved in private land conservation are acting in the public interest, but they bear the burden doing so. That’s why governments and non-profit organisations invest resources in programs aimed at delivering financial incentives to encourage private land conservation and support landholders with practical and educational assistance.

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