The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was released in August 2021. It recognises the current state of the climate is causing rapid and widespread changes to our natural systems; the basis for all life on Earth.
We understand these changes are unequivocally caused by human influences on our natural systems.
Given the predictions of IPCC’s AR6, and the desperate need to take immediate action, Healthy Land and Water stands with both the international scientific community and our stakeholders as we work together to tackle the challenges of climate change in South East Queensland.
In the past decade, South East Queensland has experienced drought, significant flooding and the worst bushfires in living memory. The 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires were shocking and unprecedented. Fires have been a natural part of our landscape for millennia, used by our First Nations Peoples for tens of thousands of years, however these fires were a watershed moment for the Australian community, costing the lives of 33 people directly, destroying over 3,000 homes, burning over 18.7 million hectares of land, and releasing hundreds of million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions into the atmosphere .
Under all climate scenarios natural disasters are predicted to be more frequent and more severe. This will have perverse and pervasive impacts to people, the economy and the environment, right here in South East Queensland. Global surface temperatures will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emission scenarios considered by the IPCC. In Australia our land areas have warmed by around 1.4 degrees celsius and average annual temperatures have risen above natural variability in all land regions. Impacts of this rise will see increased pressures imposed on our food production, water and natural resources.
Declines in our natural resources, including biodiversity loss and ecosystem services are either steadily declining or are increasing in intensity . There is an urgent need to protect the integrity of our region’s living systems.
As the region’s pre-eminent natural resource management body, Healthy Land and Water has a lot of skin in the game when it comes to tackling the impacts of a changing climate and assisting our communities to adapt. For over 20 years we have been working with our partners to build resilience within communities and across landscapes to prepare for a changing climate. Collectively we must respond to mitigate impacts, adapt and actively work toward a positive future.
We stand together with the IPCC, the Wentworth Group and other concerned scientists in harnessing the significant potential that our landscapes contain to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and soils.
To drive the change required toward a climate positive future, Healthy Land and Water has established a new Climate Adaptation program to implement broadscale roll-out of nature-based solutions across the region. Through increased targeted investment in enhancing living systems, protecting and building habitat, improving connectivity between ecosystems and maintaining high agricultural productivity, our tested solutions will be applied to help neutralise the accelerating effects of global heating.
The challenge is scale – a massive increase in work is needed for our region to retain and protect the world class natural assets and lifestyle that has attracted the 2032 Olympics to the region, and achieve the net zero commitments made to the global community.