Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek Addresses National Press Club

Updated: 4 days ago

On the 19th of July 2022, Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, addressed the National Press Club regarding the 2021 State of the Environment Report.

Tanya Plibersek, smiling and wearing a black suit jacket, foregrounded by the text "Tanya Plibersek," in front of a vast background of the Great Barrier Reef.

During her address, Ms. Plibersek referenced former Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, for choosing to keep the State of the Environment Report "hidden" and "locked away until after the federal election." Ms. Plibersek suggested that having read the report, one would know why it's release was delayed.

The minister addressed the state of plastic pollution revealed in the report, quoting significant levels of plastic seen in capital cities' coastlines and the harm caused to wildlife:

"In Perth, scientists have found up to 60,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of water. In Brisbane, they found between 40,000 and 80,000. And at the top end, in the Torres Strait and Timor Sea, abandoned fishing gear has been killing marine animals on an industrial scale. These underwater hurricanes of debris are known as ‘ghost nets’ – and they’re strangling up to 14,000 turtles a year."

Ms. Plibersek also noted Australia's levels of deforestation and how the vast majority of this land clearing was not assessed by the government:

"Australia is one of the world’s deforestation hotspots. Between the year 2000 and 2017, Australia cleared over 7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat across the country. That’s an area bigger than Tasmania. Much of this clearing occurred in small increments. More than 90 per cent of it was never assessed under our environmental laws."

This figure was highlighted in a 2019 journal article for The Society of Conservation Biology, which also noted that 84% of Australian species suffered habitat loss, with koalas losing roughly 1 million hectares of potential habitat.

Blue Carbon Project Funding & Recipients

Environment Minister under the Albanese Government, Tanya Plibersek, announced on the 30th of June 2022 that the government will invest nearly $10 Million into five new domestic blue carbon projects. The intention of these projects is to restore mangroves, salt marshes and sea grasses across Australian coastal regions towards increasing carbon sequestration and marine biodiversity while also mitigating potential flooding.

The announcement followed Ms. Plibersek addressing delegates at the UN Ocean Conference in Portugal earlier in the week. During her speech, Ms. Plibersek highlighted the importance of coastal ecosystems in the fight against climate change and noted intentions to support Pacific partners with similar projects:

"Under the new Australian government, the environment is back – front and centre."

The five recipients for the restoration projects and their locations and funding amounts are listed below:

Blue Carbon Wetland Restoration Project

Location: Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Partners (Sunshine Coast, Queensland)

Restoration of former farming land to coastal wetlands with benefits for carbon sequestration, biodiversity, flood mitigation, recreation and First Nations engagement.

Funding: $2,036,000

Mungalla Blue Carbon Project

Location: Greening Australia (Ingham, Queensland)

Tidal restoration of former cattle grazing property with benefits for Indigenous heritage, ecotourism, Great Barrier Reef water quality, and bird and marine biodiversity

Funding: $1,779,988

Gulf St Vincent Seagrass Restoration Project

Location: The University of Adelaide (Port Gawler, South Australia)

Seagrass restoration project with benefits for marine biodiversity, sediment stabilisation, shoreline protection and nutrient processing.

Funding: $1,972,500

Demonstrating Outcomes of Blue Carbon Ecosystem Restoration of Temperate Saltmarsh

Location: Southern Regional Natural Resource Management (Pitt Water-Orielton Lagoon, Tasmania)

Cool climate tidal marsh restoration with benefits for coastal resilience, biodiversity, recreational fisheries and tourism.

Funding: $793,947

South Australian Blue Carbon Ecosystem Restoration Project

Location: The Nature Conservancy Australia and Partners (Upper Gulf St Vincent, South Australia) Tidal marsh restoration with benefits for biodiversity, social and cultural values.

Funding: $2,896,526

Sources & Further Reading,the%20Federal%20Government%20for%20assessment.

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