For millions of years, Australia’s ecosystems have evolved in isolation. The country’s distance from other land masses means that 80 percent of its plant and animal species are found nowhere else on earth — a number only amplified by the fact that 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity calls Australia home.
Yet the isolation that made Australia’s ecosystems so unique leaves many of them without the protective measures they need to withstand modern environmental threats like invasive species, overdevelopment and climate change.
Since first arriving in Australia more than a decade ago, The Nature Conservancy has worked closely with the Australian government, local partners and Indigenous communities to protect some of the world’s rarest, most delicate ecosystems. The Conservancy’s wide-ranging expertise leaves us perfectly suited to launch large-scale, on-the-ground conservation programs that will help the Land Down Under rise above a wide variety of environmental threats.
The Conservancy is working at a vast scale in the Great Western Woodlands and the Northern Australian Grasslands, which are respectively home to the largest remaining mediterranean woodlands and savanna grasslands on earth.
We team with a large and diverse coalition of partners to achieve unprecedented conservation results in these regions. We’ve helped fund the acquisition of nine million acres of land in our priority areas and have worked closely with our allies to ensure these conservation lands are sustainably funded for generations to come.
Meanwhile, projects like the Australia Fellowships Program allow us to build the institutional and technical capacity of partner organizations. The Conservancy’s size and experience enables us to be a unique and far-reaching influence in Australia’s conservation community.
We’re working with the national government to direct and apply Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, a countrywide plan for protecting ecosystems. By incorporating time-bound protection targets, land use programs and new conservation tax provisions, the Conservancy is shifting policy in directions that benefit people and nature.
And through the creation of several large and innovative Indigenous Protected Areas — conservation lands stewarded by their traditional owners — the Conservancy is proving on a national level that, sometimes, the old ways are best.
That notion is key to the Conservancy’s work in Australia, which combines local knowledge with our proven scientific approach. By implementing a fire management plan that uses traditional techniques to pursue sustainable burning plans, we’re drawing on the old and the new to offset carbon emissions and make ecosystems more resilient against the stresses of climate change.
The Conservancy has learned a lot of lessons during our 60-year history in the United States. And those experiences in the U.S. are of particular value in Australia, a country with many cultural and ecological similarities — and a lot on the line.
In the northern grasslands, we can supply local graziers with conservation solutions learned through our work with U.S. ranchers. And in the southwest, our scientists are planning conservation solutions for 10 million acres of conservation lands in the Great Western Woodlands and over 80 million acres worth of Marine Protected Areas.
In the next five years, we plan on significantly increasing the number of Indigenous Rangers throughout the country and encouraging greater engagement with indigenous communities on conservation issues. These goals will improve the management of vast networks of conservation lands as well as provide livelihoods for people well-equipped to steward their native lands.
Protecting Australia’s environment not only means setting aside lands for conservation. It means creating healthier, more resilient ecosystems that can benefit people and wildlife alike.
The Conservancy is fully committed to ensuring that Australia’s ecosystems continue to evolve in sustainable ways — and not in isolation, but rather with both the global vision and local expertise necessary to ensure its survival for millions of years more.