Australia’s national environment group has cautiously welcomed the Albanese government’s proposal for a biodiversity certificates scheme.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said the scheme must be carefully designed so it delivers genuine outcomes for nature and avoids the integrity issues that have defined many carbon credit schemes.
“Nature in Australia is in serious trouble, so we need to halt the ongoing destruction and restore degraded landscapes to health,” said ACF’s nature campaign manager Basha Stasak.
“Nearly 8 million hectares of threatened species habitat in Australia have been destroyed since 2000 and we have one of the world’s worst extinction rates.
“Species that were once common, like gang-gang cockatoos, greater gliders and even koalas –– are now on the threatened species list.
“A well-designed biodiversity certificates scheme could be good for nature, but a badly designed scheme could facilitate the destruction of more precious wildlife habitat.
“It will be important for the scheme to provide genuine, verifiable environmental outcomes and deliver a net-gain for biodiversity.
“There remain questions about whether the Clean Energy Regulator is the appropriate body to administer a biodiversity scheme and whether the regulator will be provided with increased funding and appropriately trained staff.
“While private involvement in conservation is welcome, restoring nature is unquestionably in the public interest and there remains a need for significant public investment.
“The scheme must align with Australia’s national environment law, which needs fundamental reform.
“Care must be taken to make sure the biodiversity certificates scheme has genuine integrity and strong governance arrangements.
“ACF looks forward to reviewing the legalisation and working with the government to ensure the scheme delivers a net gain for nature.”