Koala Friendly Carbon, a first-of-its-kind carbon program to help restore koala habitat, is now available in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales.
The pilot program – which aims to boost koala numbers – is a partnership between the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia, the NSW Government and Climate Friendly.
If successful, this program will provide an innovative mechanism to dramatically scale up landscape restoration for the benefit of our nation’s most iconic endangered species.
A complimentary partnership between WWF-Australia and the NSW Government has also been launched offering incentives to Northern Rivers landholders to sign conservation agreements to permanently protect koala habitat on their land.
Both projects are part of the recently released NSW Koala Strategy and come just months after the iconic species was uplisted from vulnerable to endangered in Queensland, NSW and the ACT.
“Following drought, bushfires, and now floods there’s an urgent need to accelerate our activity to protect and revegetate large areas of koala habitat,” said Tanya Pritchard, Landscape Restoration Project Manager, WWF-Australia.
“Through projects such as these, WWF’s Regenerate Australia program Koalas Forever aims to double koala numbers on the east coast by 2050,” she said.
Minister for Environment James Griffin said: “The NSW Government and WWF-Australia are aiming to secure 500 hectares of high quality koala habitat on private land under conservation agreements across the northern rivers region.
“By working in partnership with trusted organisations like WWF-Australia and with private landholders we’re giving koalas across the northern rivers the best chance to thrive for generations to come.”
Koala Friendly Carbon
The Koala Friendly Carbon project will plant koala food and shelter trees to help restore thousands of hectares of koala habitat, increase biodiversity, store carbon, and provide carbon credits income for landholders.
Climate Friendly, one of Australia’s leading carbon farming services provider will be on the ground supporting the carbon project design and establishment and assisting with audits and project reporting.
Combining carbon farming and conservation is an innovative way to support land managers to create habitat for koalas on part or all of their property.
Skye Glenday, Co-chief Executive Officer of Climate Friendly, said: “this is a win-win for the local community and the environment. The Northern Rivers program will be the first of many that support high-integrity carbon abatement projects, helping to reduce emissions while restoring koalas’ natural habitat and providing a valuable source of income to local communities.
“Following the recent catastrophic flooding, this project will allow much needed funds to flow into the Northern Rivers, while harnessing the passion of the region for supporting koalas and the environment.
“Successful applicants can expect to earn revenue from the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) after just 12 months,” Ms Glenday said.
Climate Friendly will assess the eligibility of each property against ERF criteria and also evaluate the carbon potential of the land.
The area to be planted needs to be large enough, with the right soil type and adequate rainfall, to support the growth of a forest that can store a substantial amount of carbon.
To qualify as Koala Friendly Carbon projects, there will also need to be evidence of koalas nearby with a focus on plantings that reconnect fragmented habitat.
The NSW Government is funding 250,000 trees and WWF-Australia is investing $1.5 million to run the pilot, co-ordinate the logistics for planting, and provide on-going biodiversity monitoring.
Using the Accounting for Nature Framework, WWF has developed an accredited method (including scat surveys to measure koala activity levels) to verify that koalas are actually benefiting from the plantings.
There are areas of high quality koala habitat in the Northern Rivers on private land with owners who are passionate about playing a role in the protection of koalas.
It’s hoped these landholders will participate in the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust’s (BCT) Conservation Partners Program and sign permanent conservation agreements to protect, restore and manage koala habitat on their land.
WWF and the NSW Government are providing a combined $2 million in funding for this project.
Each agreement will include a tailored management plan, funded restoration works such as fire management, fencing, revegetation, nest box installation, weed and pest control, biodiversity monitoring and financial incentives for the landholder.
About Regenerate Australia
Regenerate Australia is the largest and most innovative wildlife recovery and landscape regeneration program in Australia’s history. Launched by WWF-Australia in October 2020, the multi-year program will rehabilitate, repopulate and restore wildlife and habitats affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and help to future-proof Australia against the impacts of a changing climate.
Australia’s eastern koalas need support, you can add your support and help Regenerate Australia at www.wwf.org.au/regenerate-australia