Australian ministers agree 2030 biodiversity targets, include OECMs in Nature Repair Market

Published 09:00 on June 21, 2024  /  Last updated at 09:00 on June 21, 2024  / Stian Reklev /  Asia Pacific, Australia, Biodiversity

Australian federal and state environment ministers on Friday agreed on an ambition to protect and conserve 30% of land and sea by 2030 and a number of other ambitions that the country will take to the biodiversity COP in Colombia later this year, while also agreeing to include Other Effective land-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the Nature Repair Market.

Australian federal and state environment ministers on Friday agreed on an ambition to protect and conserve 30% of land and sea by 2030 and a number of other ambitions that the country will take to the biodiversity COP in Colombia later this year, while also agreeing to include Other Effective land-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the Nature Repair Market.

“Australia is amongst the first countries in the world to set national targets to support the landmark Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity,” said an Environment Minister Meeting Communique after federal minister Tanya Plibersek met with her state and territory counterparts.

The ministers formally agreed that 30% of Australia’s landmass and its marine areas shall be protected and conserved by 2030, and the target will be part of the strategy the country will present at COP16 in Cali in October.

They also pledged to ensure that priority degraded areas will be under effective restoration by the end of the decade, that there will be no new species extinctions, and that impact on biodiversity from climate change must be minimised.

As well, the ministers said invasive species will be eradicated or controlled in priority areas by 2030, and that further introduction of such species will be minimised by 2030.

Australia last year finalised a strategy to address the threat from feral cats, while plans for feral goats and escaped garden plants will be hammered out.

Finally, the ministers agreed on a rate with which to increase Australia’s circular economy in a bid to limit pollution an its impact on biodiversity.

A public consultation will now be launched for a 30 by 30 roadmap, the communique said.

“The roadmap explains how Australia can achieve its goal of protecting 30% of lad and 30% of marine areas by 2030,” it said.

“Meeting this important international and national target will help make nature more resilient to the impacts of climate change.”

OECM A GO

Also at the meeting, the ministers finalised the OECM framework the government has been working on since early last year, following a second round of public consultation in March this year.

Only a dozen or so countries worldwide have domestic regulations in place to get OECMs registered internationally and plans to use them towards their GBF targets, though a large number of nations are in the process of following suit.

Australia has estimated it needs to put an additional 60 million hectares of land under protection by 2030 just to meet the terrestrial part of its GBF target, and thinks allowing OECMs can make the goal more manageable.

In the March consultation, Australia opened for OECMs to participate in and generate biodiversity credits from the Nature Repair Market, and the Friday statement confirmed that this will be the case.

“The framework will help landholders demonstrate that their efforts to conserve nature meet a clear standard, with the potential for international recognition,” it said.

“This will enable landholders and investors to contribute to 30 by 30, including through the Nature Repair Market.”

Further details are not as yet available, and the decision was made even as an April study warned that the lack of differentiation between the contribution that OECMs and protected areas make to the GBF could lead to potential perverse outcomes.

Friday’s communique said the defence ministry is working towards recognising part of the Yampi Sound Defence Training Area in northwestern Western Australia as an OECM.

An area of about 150,000 ha that is refuge for species like the Northern Quoll, Golden Bandicoot, and the Gouldian Finch would be classified as an OECM if the ministry finalises the plan.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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