IN The Cyan Way, I suggested that, with the onset of climate change and the potential inundation of low-lying areas along the eastern arm of Western Port, some of these areas will probably return to their original coastal status and become carbon sinks once more.
Prior to the draining of the Koo Wee Rup swamp, the wetlands and coastal saltmarshes provided a means of controlling and filtering water flowing into Western Port and moderated the effect of waves and storm surges on the foreshore vegetation. This natural ecosystem balanced the competing needs of the flora and fauna of this region and Western Port’s fragile marine ecosystem.
If the answer is yes, here, for example, are two government sponsored climate change initiatives that have links to the discussion and may help set a new course.
The first is the Land Restoration Fund sponsored by the Queensland government.
The LRF is designed to help restore natural environments and improve the health of coastal and wetland ecosystems and, in this case, the quality of water flowing into The Great Barrier Reef. “The LRF supports land owners and land managers, farmers, and First Nations peoples to generate new, regular income streams through carbon farming projects whilst providing valuable co-benefits such as healthier waterways, increased habitat for threatened species, and more resilient landscapes.”
A video on YouTube gives a summary of the project.
The second is a pilot project sponsored by the Federal government. Under the banner of the Agriculture Stewardship Package, the project known as the Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Carbon and Biodiversity Pilot trials “arrangements to reward farmers for improving on-farm biodiversity together with carbon projects under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).”
The program will be run insix Natural Resource Management regions including North Central in Victoria.
Carbon Farmers of Australia said of these projects: “We now live in a world of ‘carbon consciousness’. This means FARMERS (of the world) have opportunities to not only MITIGATE (i.e. lessen the effects of climate change via sequestration in Vegetation and Soils and be rewarded in the Carbon Markets), but also they can now be rewarded in the ‘co-benefits’ or ‘biodiversity’ markets (i.e. other market-based instruments not directly related to the Carbon benefits BUT related to the same piece of land). BINGO! One piece of land, two markets. Potentially one piece of land and several different carbon farming projects too.”
I was heartened by the Carbon Farmers’ comments for they confirmed some of what I’d said in The Cyan Way: with the imminent loss of some farming land and the expansion of wetland environments in the Lang Lang area, this could be compensated by the uptake of regenerative farming activities and carbon sequestration opportunities.
In time then, if new goals are taken up, the Lang Lang region and other low-lying areas of the eastern arm of Western Port could once more become important ecosystems and look and work something like this: “Secret World of Saltmarshes”.
However, the fact is that under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018, “the marine and coastal environment includes all private and public land and waters between the outer limit of Victorian coastal water and five kilometres inland of the high-water mark of the sea, including:
(a) The land (whether or not covered by water) to a depth of 200 metres below the surface of that land.
(b) Any water covering the land referred to in paragraph (a) above from time to time.
(c) The biodiversity associated with the land and water referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b).
The definition includes bays, inlets and estuaries, and the Gippsland Lakes.”
With the Act in mind and looking at the two environment projects designed to redress some of the environmental problems we have created, now is the time to get in step with nature.
While it may be challenging to try and rectify our past environmental indiscretions, it may not be too difficult, for as Charles Massy says in his book Call of the Reed Warbler, “All that remains is to swallow our hubris and walk humbly before the wonder of nature’s extraordinary co-evolved systems.”