The Albanese Labor Government is seeking feedback on the principles that will guide which areas could be formally recognised for their contribution to nature conservation.
The framework, once finalised, will support recognition of biodiversity conservation outside formal protected areas like national parks and Indigenous Protected Areas.
The Government has set a target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land and 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. This new approach to conserving land will play a part in helping us reach this target.
To be recognised, conservation areas, or ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ must have important biodiversity values and the owners must commit to maintaining these values in the long-term. This would always be voluntary – and areas would only be recognised with the landowner’s consent.
This framework is part of a global initiative. Other countries such as Canada and South Africa have already established national processes for recognising and reporting other effective area-based conservation measures. As of June 2022, there were 775 other effective area-based conservation measures across nine countries.
There are a variety of ways conservation recognition could work. For example, a private landholder who holds a large block of land next to a national park that is habitat for endangered species could have the area recognised as part of our national conserved areas estate.
Other effective area-based conservation measures are defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as:
A geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed
in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation
of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable,
cultural, spiritual, socio-economic, and other locally relevant values.
Other effective area-based conservation will complement the Government’s Nature Repair Market. An area that is recognised as an other effective area-based conservation measure could also be issued with a biodiversity certificate which can then be sold to other parties.
Once finalised, the new framework will guide landholders on how to meet requirements to achieve OECM recognition. To have your say, visit: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/consult-draft-principles-for-oecms-in-australia
Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP:
“We need every tool in the box to protect our precious environment for our kids and grandkids.
“We have set an ambitious national target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of our land by 2030. And we are on our way with 22 per cent of Australia’s landmass now protected.
“That means that we still need to protect or conserve an additional 60 million hectares, roughly 9 times the size of Tasmania. High quality conservation areas or other effective area-based conservation measures can help us get there.
“I encourage all Australians to have their say and help better conserve our iconic landscapes.”