With flooding, severe heatwaves, and drought a regular feature of our summers, the far-reaching effects of climate change on nature, and industries that rely on nature, present a challenge that cannot be ignored by our decision-makers.  

This extends to our food and agriculture industry, which has a pivotal role in protecting the environment it depends so heavily on for its survival.  

With 55% of land used in Australia for crops and livestock, land managers have an enormous opportunity to protect and restore nature and will be vital for the country’s transition to a net zero economy.

Food and agriculture can be in balance with nature and climate and support the restoration and protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Livestock, for example, can support balanced ecological mosaics through browsing, grazing, nutrient cycling, and the dispersal of seed. Forest and wetland regeneration can protect and restore carbon sinks, support wildlife, and play a vital role to mitigate climate change. 

But since colonisation, the Australian agricultural system has become off balance with nature and climate, resulting in the degradation our unique landscapes and seascapes. 

The Australian government has recently published submissions to its Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan, a plan that supports Australia's efforts to better protect nature and climate as part of the Net Zero Plan.

As part of our submission, we've shared five recommendations for the plan: 

  1. Develop a national food strategy and plan for a food system that operates within planetary boundaries and provides Australians with access to good quality food, contributes to global food security and improves famer wellbeing.

    A plan that focuses on this, and incorporates Indigenous knowledge, will allow us to continue
    supplying nutritious food to the world
    , and support farmers, without costing the earth. This plan must align with the Global Biodiversity Framework and ensure our food systems operate within safe and just planetary boundaries which measure the impacts – such as water use, pollution, or the disruption of ecosystem – the earth can withstand before change is irreversible. 
  2. Implement a system of national natural capital accounting to monitor environmental trends.

    This will allow us to better understand the impact
    and dependence of agricultural practices on the environment and nature’s contribution to the economy, so we can measure and adjust the way we use the land. By establishing supply chain traceability, businesses and land managers will be more accountable to the public and create opportunities as suppliers of sustainable food
  3. Fund projects that prove protecting nature on farmland is good for the environment and farmers’ hip pocket. 

    mproving natural capital on farms to enhance biodiversity, soil health, water retention, and the like, can help improve farm performance and can lead to more profit, especially during dry years, as well as greater wellbeing.
  4. Reform corporate and financial laws to ensure large businesses and financial institutions disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature and climate, and transition to sustainable practices 

    The food industry is dominated by big business
    , and many are already taking action to reduce their impact, such as by committing to ending deforestation. But transitioning to food system that supports global climate and nature goals, will require a more rapid transformation than voluntary actions can deliver.
  5. End broadscale land clearing and improving the extent, condition, and connectivity of natural ecosystems. 

    won’t end extinction or limit global heating while continuing to bulldoze our forests. By fixing our national nature laws and ending broadscale land clearing, we will be able to protect critical habitat throughout Australia and reduce climate change. And we’ll have healthier soils and rivers, which means more productive farms, as a bonus.

Food and agriculture can be in balance with nature and climate and support the restoration and protection of the environment for future generations.

Read our submission here

Nat Pelle

Business and Biodiversity Campaign Lead