There must be one place left in the world. Where the mountains meet the sea. Where the water's real and clean. Where the skin says it can breathe. It's a solitude of distance and relief. There's gotta be one place left in the world.
Driving through Victoria's iconic Otway Ranges on my way to a project site visit for
South Pole's EcoAustralia program, these lyrics from Midnight Oil's 'Antarctica' played in my mind. These are truly wild places; places to be respected. Places that, through the support of the carbon market, will be protected as conservation sites in perpetuity.
In 2018, South Pole launched EcoAustralia; a unique solution enabling voluntary carbon market buyers to access verified international carbon credits and quantified Australian biodiversity credits in a single product.
For every one-tonne carbon offset purchased through EcoAustralia, an additional 1.5 m2 of Australian native habitat is protected in perpetuity. So, an organisation offsetting 10,000 tCO2e through EcoAustralia to meet, for example, a carbon neutrality, would permanently protect 15,000 m2 of Australian biodiversity.
A three-hour drive southwest of Melbourne in the Otway Ranges, the Lavers Hill project area is one of two biodiversity projects supported by EcoAustralia. Covered by old-growth rainforest and dense undergrowth, the site is home to ancient plant communities, the species composition of which dates back thousands of years and offers an exceptional insight into the history and diversity of Victoria's native landscapes.
The Lavers Hill project in Victoria's Otway Ranges is one of the state's most biodiverse areas
Continuing the drive for a further three hours west of Lavers Hill, and you come to the Myamyn project area. Situated in the Annya State Forest, this region is critical native habitat for a number of threatened Australian species – including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the Powerful Owl, and the Long-nosed Potoroo. In 1997, a large portion of the project site was illegally cleared and replanted with blue gum trees (figure 1).
Figure 1: Satellite image of Myamyn site (site boundaries shown in light green)
Originating in Tasmania, the blue gum is a fast-growing, hardy eucalyptus commonly used in plantations. Unfortunately, these attributes also mean that blue gums outcompete local native species and disrupt the broader ecosystem. As a result, what was once a kaleidoscope of ecotypes at Myamyn became a largely homogenous area representing little value to the broader ecosystem.
Myamyn's story embodies the historical threats posed to much of Australia's flora and fauna, whereby land clearing for plantations and other industry has destroyed and fragmented the habitat of endemic species.
Today, the Myamyn project area is being regenerated through theNative Vegetation Credit Register; the invasive blue gum plantations have been removed, and pest regrowth is under management and control.
Remnant patches of native vegetation that were not cleared have also been protected in perpetuity from interference, securing the site's existing ecological value and maximising biodiversity for years to come – and native wildlife is returning!
Evidence of Myamyn's local residents was captured by a motion sensor camera that was onsite for a year
The protection of native vegetation and the species that call Myamyn and Lavers Hill home through EcoAustralia is just one example of the new and innovative ways that carbon markets are helping fund and create real, tangible climate solutions.
And your organisation can be part of this solution – reducing emissions and investing in Australian landscapes to help rehabilitate native forests, support local species conservation and protect biodiversity.
When your children ask what your generation did about climate change, wouldn't it be nice to say you were part of the solution?
Thank you to Paul Dettman, Anna Radkovic, David Reside and all the team at Cassinia Environmental who make Lavers Hill and Myamyn a reality. Thank you Marnie Larsson and the team at Trust for Nature for being champions of biodiversity and administering the conversation covenants on these projects.
Thank you also to all our EcoAustralia buyers – keep Sunday 28th July 2019 free in your calendars, you are invited to a tree-planting day on National Tree Day to help us get another thousand trees in the ground!
The need to take climate action through steps such as going carbon neutral has never been more urgent – and going carbon neutral has never been easier or more affordable. Learn more about EcoAustralia get in touch with Jay van Rijn to talk about taking your organisation climate neutral with EcoAustralia today!
-  McKenzie, G.M. and Kershaw, A.P., 2004. A Holocene pollen record from cool temperate Aire Crossing, the Otway region of Victoria, Australia.