Land Restoration and Carbon Sequestration for Improved Resilience and Livelihoods
Unsustainable practices, ecosystem fragmentation and biodiversity loss have led to a decline in ecosystem health and widespread land degradation across Australia. This has resulted in the ancient continent’s increasing vulnerability to droughts, floods and fire, and the release of massive volumes of ecosystem carbon into the atmosphere.
The Restore Australia programme addresses these challenges through a blueprint for a merits-based collaborative approach to land restoration on a national scale. By harnessing the shared goals and complementary skills of all key stakeholders, Restore Australia will deliver transformational land restoration and regeneration across Australian forest, farm and grazing lands, contributing to improved and diversified livelihoods and increased resilience to climate extremes.
Across six prioritised regions, the Restore Australia programme will leverage and scale-out from existing project successes, using diverse partnerships and on-ground implementors to operationalise community-developed strategies and shovel-ready landscape restoration actions. The programme will emphasise collaboration, innovation, efficiency, harmonisation and co-learning.
The Global EverGreening Alliance is an international not-for-profit organisation that brings leading research, technical, and development organisations together, leveraging their strengths, capacities and existing investments to restore degraded lands, and improve the sustainability, profitability, and reliability of smallholder farming systems.
The Alliance provides a collaborative platform to support and facilitate massive-scale environmental restoration and sustainable agricultural intensiﬁcation programs – increasing biodiversity, and both mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change on a globally signiﬁcant scale. Since 2012, the Alliance has harnessed the collective energies, expertise and capacities of its members to scale-up the most impactful and contextually appropriate grassroots land restoration practices, transforming the livelihoods of millions of the world’s most vulnerable smallholder farmers and pastoralists.
The Global EverGreening Alliance will coordinate and deliver the Restore Australia programme. Across the six regions, implementation of activities will be led by six Coordinating Organisations that will work closely with and through local grassroot organisations, research and technical institutions, and other contracting professional services, as necessary.
The governance structure of the programme will include a Programme Coordination Unit working across the programme, with a Technical Advisory Board, state/federal Regional Advisory Boards and a Policy Working Group providing technical expertise and strategic advice respectively
The Global EverGreening Alliance's vision is to restore degraded agricultural, pastoral, and forest lands, globally. Through nature-based approaches – such as EverGreening agroforestry, regenerative agriculture and assisted natural regeneration - degraded lands can be rapidly restored through the efforts of farmers, pastoralists and local communities. This approach leads to more productive, profitable and resilient landscapes and agricultural systems, providing small-scale farmer, pastoralist, and forest-dependent communities with improved and diversified livelihoods.
The Global EverGreening Alliance is working with a multitude of stakeholders on designing programs in Africa, Australia, Latin America, South Asia and South-East Asia, building on fragmented efforts to deliver massive-scale transformative impact through inclusive and enduring partnerships.
Without collaborative intervention, landholders across Australia are at the mercy of droughts and flooding, causing food and economic insecurity nationwide. By bringing together hundreds of stakeholders, traditional owners of the land, the scientific community, farmers and graziers, as well academics and prominent NGOs, the Alliance is working towards land and carbon restoration within the landscape and building transformational community resilience.
With increasing and prolonged droughts, devastating bushfires damaging millions of hectares of farm, range and forest lands, and floods threatening the loss of half a million livestock, the Australian ecological crisis has never been more dire. Changes in climate, such as drying in temperate southern regions and increased precipitation in some northern tropical areas are predicted to intensify, threatening ecosystem services, rural incomes, and exports. Decades of poor and inappropriate land management, unsustainable agricultural systems and exploitation of natural resources have resulted in a nation on the cusp of grappling with one of the most severe droughts in living memory.
Strong correlations between the increasing prevalence of climatic extremes and the nation’s unsustainable natural resource management and agricultural practices, and periodic declines in national productivity, public services, and human health demonstrate an urgent requirement for continental-scale adaptation.
While significant success has been had across a variety of Australian landscapes in restoring land degradation through regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices, these efforts have generally been fragmented, isolated, and at limited scales. This is significantly due to competition for funding, poor alignment and coordination of stakeholders, a lack of visibility and access across rural communities, perceived short-term barriers to practice change, misaligned extension support, and inappropriate policies.
Hectares of threatened species habitat destroyed over the last 20 years
Agricultural land of which is degraded
Australia’s landmass of which agricultural businesses occupy
The Global EverGreening Alliance is providing nature-based solutions to rapidly address land degradation at a globally significant scale. Through EverGreening agroforestry practices that increase the productivity, reliability and resilience of farming systems while caring for the land, the Alliance is helping mitigate climate change and lift millions of marginalised farming families out of the poverty cycle.
Agroforestry can provide many ecosystem services by enhancing physical, chemical and biological soil characteristics, thereby increasing soil fertility, controlling erosion and improving water availability. Agroforestry is also proven to be an economic and effective method to improve livelihoods in rural communities by providing a variety of food, fodder and tree products.
The restoration of degraded landscapes using agroforestry can increase the resilience of communities to shocks, including drought and food shortages, and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
This program will accelerate and massively scale-up land and carbon restoration systems by building on existing successful projects and proven-effective approaches.
Restore Australia will empower farmers and communities to own, fine-tune, and self- invest in restorative practices to capture over 79 million tons CO2eq on 13 million hectares of land under restoration over five years.
Restoring the health and productivity of the degraded farm, range and forest lands across Australia
Results so far
Public recognition of Australia’s degrading resources, and the importance of linking conservation with agricultural development, is not new.
Public awareness of the need for climate action is growing again following the bushfire crisis of December 2019 / January 2020, however, political action is lagging. Despite effective technological and institutional innovations, conservation and land restoration efforts have generally been scattered, unsustainable or unscalable, and are frequently undermined by Australia’s poor cross-sectoral policy and industry collaboration.
In recent decades there has been significant change in landholder and community attitudes to land management, leading to some incremental improvements in local land management. Unfortunately, they have yet to achieve the transformative change required across sectors and landscapes.
Across Australia, there are examples of successful networks promoting agroforestry, sustainable grazing, and conservation farming. Thousands of farms and properties have been restored, manifesting ecological, economic, and social functionality – however, such successes have been achieved largely through the initiatives of individuals rather than community support or public investment.
With support from the scientific and academic community, many farms and farmer-groups have demonstrated significant improvements in productive and sustainable natural resource management. If there is a willingness to move away from ‘business as usual’, evidence-based scalable solutions are available to restore land and store carbon.
Main objectives to achieve the solution
Land degradation leads to a loss in natural resources and agricultural productivity, with significant social and economic costs. The Restore Australia Programme will engage farmers and communities to directly address the common barriers identified in building resilience.
The programme will engage landholders and local communities through these main activities:
Building capacity of national and local-level decision-makers to use evidence-based knowledge and tools to support climate resilient policy development through ecosystem-based strategies
Developing and implementing a monitoring system to track adoption of ecosystem- based strategies and to inform decision-making
Strengthening local capacity and fostering cross-learning for improved management of agricultural and forest areas through adoption and scale-up of restorative and regenerative land practices
Carrying out multi-platform behaviour change communications campaigns tailored to different audiences to address barriers and catalyse the uptake of ecosystem-based strategies
Strengthening climate-resilient value-chains and market linkages
Increased carbon sequestration through increased vegetation on farm, grazing and degraded forest lands, and regenerative agricultural and land management practices.
Increased adaptation of rural communities and farming systems to the impacts of unpredictable seasons and increasingly frequent and severe weather events.
Restored habitat and ecosystem integrity at the landscape level for native flora and fauna.
Enhanced on-farm biodiversity through increased ecosystem services from bees, birds, insects, and wildlife.
Protect rare and ecologically valuable species.
Community & Economic
Reduced marginalization of landholders by giving them voice and a platform to engage in relevant national policy debates.
Strengthened community management capacity through participatory approaches for sustaining natural resources.
Increased sustainability of agriculture and livestock management.
Improved landholder decision-making capacity and strengthened farmer associations for greater impact at district and regional levels.
Reduced land tenure insecurity and reduced risk of displacement.
Improved mental health and wellbeing through targeted emotional resilience activities.
What the Ark2030 funds will provide
The Restore Australia programme will restore more than 13 million hectares of degraded land, storing at least an additional 90 million tons CO2e during programme implementation (5 years) and magnitudes more in subsequent years. This project is 100% financed through a pay for performance model where every hectare of degraded farmland, rangelands and degraded forestlands restored and every ton of CO2e stored in the landscape produces Ark Rewards Points, which are leveraged to further expand the programme.
Measuring and monitoring success
Programme monitoring will be enhanced through a cloud-based platform that combines detailed geospatial field data with drone and high-resolution satellite imagery analysis, to accurately track progress, impact and carbon sequestration in near real-time. The platform provides a tool for informed planning and decision-making, and for tracking the programme's contribution towards global restoration and climate change targets.
In addition, the programme will generate verified carbon credits using the most contextually appropriate Standards, including the Australian Government’s ‘Australian Carbon Credit Units’ or ACCUs and the Gold Standard’s ‘Verified Emissions Reductions’ or VERs.