Welcome Spring 2022

Gary Dunnett, Chief Executive Officer NPA 

This edition of Nature NSW features three articles about the most aspirational conservation initiative of our generation, 30 by 30, the international commitment to manage 30% of the world’s land and seas for biodiversity protection by 2030.  The trio of articles offer a wonderful introduction to the challenges and opportunities that underlie the seeming simplicity of 30 by 30. 

Dr Stuart Blanch of WWF begins that introduction by looking at where the 30% target might be applied.  He demonstrates that 30 by 30 is only meaningful if applied at the scale of ecosystems and bioregions.  He identifies the substantial challenges involved in reaching a 30% target in many NSW bioregions, then opens discussion on the types of land tenures and management models that might qualify for inclusion under 30 by 30.  Ross McDonnell, chair of NPA’s Landscape Conservation Forum, continues with an exploration of how Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) reserve design principles should be applied in pursuit of the 30 by 30 targets.  An important insight is that protecting a minimum of 30% of every bioregion and ecosystem actually requires a Protected Area Network that is significantly larger than 30%.  Finally, Dr Ross Jeffrey, NPA State Councillor, delves into the economic dimensions of applying the concept on the international stage.  His analysis suggests that, just like climate action, the costs of action on 30 by 30 are less than the future costs of inaction.

There is a genuine risk that 30 by 30 could become little more than a marketing jingle for complacent governments.  Indeed, comments from both the major parties have already signalling the belief that the nation has already reached the 30% benchmark.  Unfortunately, the national accounting that allows such complacency ignores CAR principles and relies upon many areas where biodiversity conservation is far from the primary objective. The reality in NSW is that barely 10% of our land and seas are currently managed for biodiversity protection, with one of our five marine bioregions containing not a single protected area.  

It has taken nearly 150 years to grow the NSW Protected Area Network to nearly 10%. The international consensus, informed by rigorous scientific inquiry, is that 10% is only a third of what is needed to adequately protect biodiversity and ecosystems.  Our challenge is to embrace the spirit and ambition of 30 by 30, then do everything we can to translate that inspiring concept into public support and action to restore and protect the species, habitats, ecosystems and natural landscapes of NSW. 30×30 is a fantastic concept, and the rate at which it has been adopted on the international stage is truly remarkable. It is up to us to seize this consensus and turn it into meaningful action.  

In this edition