State of the Environment Report 2021
Healthy Land & Water position statement
The 5-yearly Australia State of Environment 2021 report (the report) provides new insights into how environmental deterioration is impacting the wellbeing of Australians, and urges leadership and a coordinated response to halt and reverse this trend.
As the official natural resource management body for South East Queensland, Healthy Land & Water is releasing a 10-point position statement in response to the recently released report, and outlining the actions needed to create strong, resilient, liveable regions.
- Leadership, collaboration & legacy of 2032 games: Healthy Land & Water backs the report’s call for greater national leadership at all levels of government, to help foster coordinated action and encourage investment. Every region must play its role. South East Queensland will host the 2032 Olympics, which will focus the eyes of the world on Australia. We are well placed to use the best available data, science and collaborations at our fingertips to help best direct investment to ensure that, together, we leave a lasting positive legacy for our environment – in Minister Tanya Plibersek’s words: “…with innovative management and collaboration to turn things around”. The 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games are also likely to see significant scrutiny placed on government to demonstrate effective management of matters of international significance (Ramsar, World Heritage Areas) and national environmental significance (federally listed ecosystems and threatened species). Healthy Land & Water welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with government, industry and community to contribute to the national picture.
- First Nations: Healthy Land & Water celebrates and reiterates the recognition and empowerment of First Nations Peoples’ voices and their cultural knowledge in the Australian State of the Environment report. This is paramount for a sustainable future and recognises the >60,000-year history of land and sea management on the continent by the First Australians. Healthy Land & Water welcomes the position of the new government to introduce measures to protect cultural heritage and empower First Nations to work on, and care for, Country.
- Resilience building: Healthy Land & Water underscores that there is unprecedented urgency to build ecosystem resilience to the escalating impacts of climate change, land use and population growth, and the resultant acceleration of species and biodiversity loss. We support government commitments to plan, restore and manage. Healthy Land & Water has just brought the community across South East Queensland together to update the region’s South East Queensland Natural Resource Management Plan (NRM Plan) with the latest priorities and actions. The region’s NRM Plan clearly outlines systematic, prioritised responses taking into account the pressures on each asset. The region’s NRM Plan outlines actions through planning, managing, restoring and empowerment.
- Land: It is encouraging to see government committing to a new and ambitious target to protect 30% of Australia’s land areas by 2030. The South East Queensland community has documented a similarly ambitious goal in its NRM Plan, including maintaining or increasing the extent of regional vegetation cover including remnant vegetation at 35% and additional non-remnant woody vegetation at 22% by 2031.
- Conservation: The region is also focussed on building a comprehensive and adequate extent of protected areas and has prioritised regional targets for the protection of ecosystems which have been identified as vulnerable and poorly conserved in its NRM Plan.
- Long-term reform in environmental and cultural heritage needed: In line with the key findings of both the Australia State of the Environment report and the recommendations made during the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 review, Healthy Land & Water acknowledges the need for significant long-term reform in environmental and cultural heritage considerations and management in Australia.
- Informing targeted investment in assets: The natural resource management plans that exist across the nation have advanced our understanding of the state of our natural assets at the local and regional scales and can also inform where investment is required. Healthy Land & Water supports the call for substantially increased resources to enable protection, restoration and monitoring of natural values. Our recent large-scale review of the region’s natural assets confirmed that ‘business as usual’ is not working, and progress towards targets requires ever-increasing investment and action to halt and reverse the declines.
- More research, science and innovation needed: Healthy Land & Water supports the recommendation for greater investment in science and innovation in monitoring to increase our capacity to understand the state of the environment and at relevant scales needed to inform timely decision-making and preparedness.
- Key role of natural resource management and community organisations: Healthy Land & Water supports the inclusion of natural resource managers as key partners in many of the proposed actions, and the recognised role regional groups provide in coordination and implementation at the local scale.
- Bringing people together to create real change: Healthy Land & Water backs multi-faceted partnerships and collaboration as the best way to
co-design and deliver the actions needed. Healthy Land & Water is known for successfully bringing together synergistic cross-discipline partners and funders to deliver its extensive project portfolio and suite of climate positive, nature positive initiatives.
- Healthy Land & Water is the peak environmental group for South East Queensland, also delivering key programs to other regions across Australia and the world.
- Hub of environmental expertise in on-ground work, monitoring, and science, informing policy and decision making.
- Connector of high-performing collaborations, with strong and extensive networks including hundreds of businesses, community groups, and research institutions, and a long 20+ year history of bringing together multi-faceted partnerships to deliver and accelerate initiatives with lasting outcomes.